In 1971, the principle album–turned–theatrical feeling identified as Jesus Christ Superstar arrived on Broadway to both acclaim and approbation. 50 percent a century later, just after many stage and monitor reinterpretations, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s initial (and arguably best) rock opera is lastly returning to Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center this 7 days. This pandemic-postponed 50th Anniversary nationwide tour characteristics College of Miami graduate Omar Lopez-Cepero in the pivotal function of Judas Iscariot. I Zoomed with Lopez-Cepero very last 7 days although the tour was viewing his previous faculty property, and we spoke about his interesting journey from Florida to Broadway and again.
OW: How did you 1st get into accomplishing?
OLC: I am so significantly of an advocate for arts in schools and general public school arts schooling, since if it hadn’t been for the teachers that I had in higher college that regarded that I experienced expertise and genuinely pushed me … I was one particular of all those stereotypical stories that you see of a guy who was an athlete that finds out that he’s a singer and an actor, and truly falls in love with amusement and arts. I definitely identified my house and my spot in theater and in the theater neighborhood.
It was not actually until finally my senior yr that my large school instructors generally challenged me to audition for colleges and see if I got a scholarship. They reported that they imagined I would get a more substantial [theater] scholarship than I would in sports, and they were correct I finished up having a full journey to the University of Miami, which was an unbelievable honor.
What was it like remaining a “swing” (or substitute) in the initial Broadway firm of American Fool?
The chance to get the job done with Green Working day and [director] Michael Mayer, [music supervisor] Tom Kitt, just the full workforce across the board — I understood this was likely to be a distinctive gig, and I claimed “I have to do this.” When I observed out I had to deal with nine folks, my head virtually exploded. But I believe coming from an athletic background and a competitive qualifications really geared up me in a way to be capable to tackle the rigors of a swing. A swing genuinely has to be capable to move in at a moment’s recognize, so it is nearly like you happen to be an athlete stepping up to a free of charge toss line and acquiring to strike the final shot.
I have to give a shoutout to our swings in our clearly show currently, and all swings throughout the board suitable now, in particular in the course of pandemic situations. Mainly because the swings’ task is a incredibly, extremely hard position and it’s many periods not rewarded or acknowledged ample. They are doing the job actually hard mainly because there is so several men and women out all the time mainly because of COVID, and so a large amount of instances you will have to enjoy multiple figures in the identical night.
How do you tactic singing Judas’ notoriously demanding figures?
Andrew Lloyd Webber can at times be polarizing, in terms of some people absolutely adore him, and some men and women you should not enjoy his perform. I think that after functioning on his substance, I actually received to have an understanding of the genius in the complexity of what he does. In a great deal of ways, I say he is sort of a [sadist] to singers, due to the fact if you pay attention to Jesus Christ Celebrity, Evita or Phantom, he truly employs the complete vocal variety of an actor.
I believe inevitably we are affected by what is come before us, just by osmosis [but] I believe that there is certainly a threat in hoping to emulate what another person else does. What I feel our resourceful group and tunes staff seriously preferred to do was deliver our have uniqueness and our individuality to it provide a good deal of ourselves to this, since I believe that which is what would make it a great deal more organic and a great deal more desirable, and a lot more truthful.
To be completely frank, the clearly show is particularly tricky, so there is certainly really only one particular way for me to sing it.
What is the vision driving director Timothy Sheader’s and choreographer Drew McOnie’s up to date staging?
The staff seriously needed to get started from the origin of where by it all commenced, which is the  “brown” album, the notion album. So that is the genesis for this piece: That is the language that we speak and how we want to transmit this psychological story via the songs. You are heading to listen to a good deal of the return to first preparations from the authentic brown album. You have the band on stage you are gonna get a live performance feel in a large amount of moments. I simply call this a hybrid theatrical piece simply because it has a live performance component to it.
For non-theatergoers, it is really a excellent introduction into theater, because it really is a as a result of-sung show. The new music really rocks, the band is on stage, and the visuals of the demonstrate genuinely come to feel like a rock live performance in a ton of moments. And then you get pulled into that extraordinary storytelling that genuinely captivates the next 50 percent of the clearly show.
How has COVID impacted you personally?
Ironically, I was released to COVID on working day two of my rehearsals. I experienced not been ill at all and had been extremely very careful, but inevitably I arrived in right when it was actually hitting challenging, finish of December/January, and I was two [or] a few days into rehearsal and received COVID. I was out for two weeks and then I went straight into the demonstrate, so it was one of the greatest difficulties of my everyday living, because the vocal demands of the exhibit are obviously pretty hard. It is [like if] an individual who hadn’t operate a mile at the time in their everyday living had to start off jogging a marathon right after becoming unwell, and just keep working. So, the initially pair of weeks finding my pacing, discovering my health once again, was a person of the toughest items I have ever carried out. But I survived it and am stronger due to the fact of it.
We’re so grateful that function is again, for the reason that we ended up not operating for a extensive time. We’re extremely grateful that audiences have appear again, and the demonstrates are coming back.