New York State In-depth

“Jesus Christ Superstar” comes to Syracuse with a twist

(WSYR-TV) — Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the most iconic musicals of all time, but CNY Playhouse is bringing the spectacle to Syracuse with a twist.

Director Mookey Van Orden and actress Bianca Hallett speak to the power of their one-of-a-kind rendition of the beloved musical.

“Our twist is that we are setting the show in 2020 during the protests after George Floyd’s murder,” says Mookey. “It is very much a Black Lives Matter, human rights type of show this time around.

Van Orden has also gender-swapped the roles of the musical, allowing actors to play roles they never thought they would get to play.

Knowing this vision, Hallett (“Jesus”) knew this was an opportunity she wasn’t going to miss.
“With the message and how diverse the cast is, it was just something I really wanted to be a part of,” says Hallett.

While the difference in setting from the original production may seem vast, Mookey says the story of Jesus Christ lends itself to this current landscape and the issues we face.

“I think objectively if you look at the story of Jesus Christ and what happened back then, it was a man of color who was murdered in a police state,” says Mookey, “and I think that directly reflects some of the issues we’ re dealing with in our own country right now.”

“It’s okay to have new things come up and to do things a little differently,” says Bianca, “it doesn’t take away from the memories or nostalgia. I think it’s a beautiful show, and I really think you will walk away talking about it for a couple weeks.”

Van Orden and the cast are taking this beloved show to unknown territory, but they’re paying homage to past local productions and the original musical itself.

“I do think our cast has done a great job of making it our own while still respecting the original work,” says Bianca.

The show runs July 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23 at 7pm and July 17th at 2pm at CNY Playhouse (116 W. Glen Ave Syracuse).

For more information and to buy tickets, visit or call 315-885-8960.

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