‘Superstar’Coincidently or not, with all the talk of The Passion, The Artists’ Studio is presenting Jesus Christ Superstar — and yes, you see Jesus resurrected, if only briefly.

-Ryan Metzger as Jesus in The Artists’ Studio’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’-  You probably know the story, so to cut to the chase, the production is pretty good — overall. Ryan Metzger as Jesus is fine, but as so often happens in this show, he is a shallow character at best. This story is told from Judas’ perspective after all. And as Judas, Tim Garland’s performance makes a case for why there should always be understudies available. Obviously ill, his songs took on a perpetual pubescent Peter Brady sound.

Ashley Wilcox-Hilgert as Mary Magdalene nailed her signature song, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” Very important in this musical, because it is a song everyone will recognize. Rory Shivers as Caiaphas did exceptional work as well, with the deep, deep notes required of him. His leather-clad entourage was good, too. And Jeff Angel as King Herod produced a fun version of the most up-beat song in the show, “Herod’s Song.” Wilcox-Hilgert and Josh Bernsten sang a perfectly sweet duet in “Could We Start Again, Please?”

The slides at the beginning of the show were unnecessary and there were some noisy transitions. But Trevor Bates’ costuming was lovely (funny how of the 13, only Jesus gets pants), especially for the Tormentors, Herod’s flappers and during “Superstar.” Caiaphas’ and his men’s leather was impressive. Joellyn Young’s direction of Judas’ death scene was very effective, as was Jesus being engulfed by a mass of the sick looking to be healed and his flogging, which was creative.

Please note, because of some scenes, like people hanging themselves and Jesus bleeding all over the stage, this is not meant for small children who could be traumatized. Wait till someone does Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat again to take the kids out.

Jesus Christ Superstar continues at The Artists’ Studio, 12810 Ford Drive, Fishers, through April 4. Call 594-5070 for reservations.

‘Romeo and Juliet’A classic of another kind is brought to the stage in the Indiana Repertory Theatre Discovery Series production of Romeo and Juliet. Opening with an IRT Christmas Carol-like recitation of narrative, you know this is going to be a unique retelling of the tale.

The cast stands in a circle, holding umbrellas, and the opening fight scene is fought with said umbrellas. The fetching costumes are a combination of modern-medieval and punk/Goth, with a splash of the 1940s for Mercutio. No swords are to be seen, but tiny daggers, and brass knuckles and chains come into play.

Andrew C. Ahrens and Kailey Bell as Romeo and Juliet grasp their archetypal parts completely. But what is most entertaining are the jocular performances of Andrew Navarro as Mercutio and Milicent Wright as the Nurse. When these two are on stage, the words of Shakespeare take on the bawdiness they were meant to have.

Rounding out the cast is Charles Goad as Friar Lawrence, Blaine Hogan as Tybalt/Paris, Robert K. Johansen as Capulet (and the fight choreographer — good work), Wendy Rader as Lady Capulet and Ben Tebbe as Benvolio. Add in director Priscilla Lindsay and scenic designer Robert M. Koharchik, and this show contains many of Indianapolis’ best mainstays.

Romeo and Juliet continues at the IRT, 140 W. Washington St., Saturdays through April 24. Call 635-5252 for reservations.


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