The story of Jesus Christ Superstar is told through the eyes of Judas Iscariot – a tragic figure who is dissatisfied with how Jesus is leading his disciples and what downfalls may come because of it. This season at The Charlottetown Festival, audiences have been raving about actor Lee Siegel’s interpretation of the role.
This week, people who come to our production of Jesus Christ Superstar will see a new interpretation, as actress Alicia Toner fills in for the iconic part.
“I’ve known since I got my contract for this year that I would be going on this week, so I started going back to the album and the movie and listening again,” says Toner about her preparation. “I also had the entire rehearsal period to watch Lee (Siegel) make Judas into a compassionate but conflicted being and had my own understudy run to get a feeling for stepping into this role.”
Toner is a well-known singer and performer on P.E.I.. Earlier this year she won the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award with MusicPEI and has been on The Charlottetown Festival main stage for the past six seasons.
The role of Judas, itself, has always been a dream for Toner to play. Toner says, “I definitely did not think I would ever be able to say I got a chance to play Judas. It means a lot to be able to do it here in Charlottetown.”
Adam Brazier, director of Jesus Christ Superstar and artistic director of The Charlottetown Festival, is also excited to see Toner in this role.
“Alicia Toner is a powerhouse force of nature. Her incredible vocals and ability to interpret this story without gender bias or any shifting of narrative offers an amazing experience for anyone who is familiar with this highly celebrated production,” adds Brazier.
For Toner, she feels the narrative of the story doesn’t change with a woman in the role of Judas, but by simply having a different actor playing that part it will be a new experience for audience-goers.
“If you’ve already seen the show, you know that Lee is a force to be reckoned with. We are obviously two different people, genders aside, and seeing the show with a different Judas will be a different experience. That being said, the narrative remains the same. One thing I love about playing Judas as a woman is that nothing needs to change.
If you’ve heard the musical, you also know how vocally-demanding the role of Judas can be. Toner has years of experience as a singer and performer that has allowed her to prepare, vocally, for these parts. Only in one song was the key changed and the rest remains the same. Still, even though she feels she’s ready, she’s also nervous and excited.
“Name the emotion and I am feeling it – excited to share the stage in a different context with this incredible cast and thankful to Lee for creating such a beautiful character for me to step in to.”
Alicia Toner will be taking on the role of Judas from August 15 to 19 and can be seen throughout the season in Jesus Christ Superstar as a Soul Sister and Anne of Green Gables-The Musical as Prissy Andrews until September 22.