'Jesus Christ Superstar' recasts Pontius Pilate — again
The Broadway-bound revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar," currently at the La Jolla Playhouse, has been generating positive buzz since opening earlier this year at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada. But the production appears to be experiencing some complications in the casting of Pontius Pilate, the Roman politician who sentences Jesus to the cross.
When the musical opened in Stratford, the role of Pilate was played by Brent Carver, a Tony Award winner for "Kiss of the Spider Woman." Carver was announced for the La Jolla transfer but then last month, the company said he was withdrawing from the production, citing a need to rest his voice.
Actor Jeremy Kushnier was then cast in the role of Pilate and appeared in the Nov. 30 opening-night performance. But this week Kushnier left the role and was replaced by actor Tom Hewitt, who started on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the playhouse said Hewitt will be performing the role of Pilate for a limited engagement and that Kushnier would return to the production later in the run.
A Stratford Shakespeare Festival spokeswoman said Hewitt is only performing for six or seven performances in La Jolla. She said there is a possibility that he is being considered for the role of Pilate on Broadway. As for Kushnier, the Stratford spokeswoman said that even before he took over the role of Pilate there were plans for him to be part of the Broadway transfer.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" features songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The revival is staged by former La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Des McAnuff.
The La Jolla run is scheduled to end Dec. 31. The Broadway engagement is set to open Mar. 22 at the Neil Simon Theatre.
— David Ng
Photo: A scene from "Jesus Christ Superstar." Credit: David Hou / Stratford Shakespeare Festival