COLDWATER, Mich. — The sun began to set behind the historic brick of Tibbits Opera House Thursday night as people arrived for opening night of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is a 1970 rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. A large part of the plot focuses on the character of Judas Iscariot, the one of Jesus’ 12 disciples that betrayed him. The play depicts him as a tragic figure dissatisfied with the direction in which Jesus steers his disciples and fearful for the harm that may result.

Jovan E. Watlington plays Judas with palpable pain and rage. Jesus, played by Jack Gerhard, portrays a youthful, charismatic and fun-loving Jesus. Morgan Rucker is a stunning Mary Magdaline whose star quality shines on its own through her role as Jesus’ star-crossed lover.

The apostles’ retro garb and flashy dancing bring the stage alive.

From a riser in the shadows, the Tibbits orchestra brings a well-rehearsed polish to the stage.

The story told by “Jesus Christ Superstar” remains relevant today. A moral struggle ensues from a young leader’s exuberant desire to lift people up and another man’s anxiety about the consequences. The ensemble, made up of apostles, is malleable, swinging from light-hearted skipping behind Jesus to a menacing growl behind King Herod.

The play asks the audience to look inside to understand a moral struggle of the ages as told in New Testament renditions of Jesus’ final days.

Performances continue Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. For details, go to or call 517-278-6029.

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