Local child actor Andrew Moy is in “Jesus Christ Superstar”, which opened February 4th and runs through July 29 at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, 501 West 78th Street, Chanhassen, MN 55317-0100. Moy had already seen Jesus Christ Superstar and said his voice lessons prepared him for the ensemble role of a village boy who is a follower of Jesus.
“It was cool because the director, Michael Brindisi, created roles for kids in this show even though the script didn’t call for them,” said Moy. “I guess there were kids in Jesus’ time and that seemed a natural thing to add. I feel so thrilled and honored to have been invited.”
Brindisi said it was important to add children into the cast and created two roles including Andrew’s, who makes his Chanhassen debut as also the only Asian American in the production.
“Andrew is an amazing young man, the kind of child actor you rarely run across,” said Brindisi. “He is talented, professional and extremely comfortable on stage. He was a pleasure to work with during the rehearsal period and none of us ever thought of him as ‘a kid’, but rather as a savvy professional.”
Moy said working with Brindisi is fun and that he encourages him to present their own ideas. He describes a “unique and collaborative atmosphere” in working with the actors.
The large cast is led by Ben Bakken as Jesus of Nazareth, with Jared Oxborough as Judas Iscariot and Michelle Carter is Mary Magdalene.
“Everyone is so nice and it feels good, like a real family,” Moy added.
The six month production will certainly be demanding for Moy, but it will also be a nurturing environment in which to develop his professional acting experience. He is double cast with another youth actor to shares the role and each take four shows a week.
“I can still be a kid and have a life outside of working on stage and school,” he said. “It’s a good balance.”
The two work together to make sure they know all their ‘blocking’ requirements, which amounts to knowing where and how to move while onstage.
“I’ve never had to do that before, so I am looking forward to it!” he added.
Moy is a second generation Chinese American, and a very bright 10 year-old who was bumped up to the sixth grade at his Fine Arts Interdiciplinary Resource school in Crystal, and could have gone to seventh but his parents Steve and Linda Moy of Minneapolis said that would be too much too soon.
This past year he was an understudy for lead role in the Children’s Theatre Company production of The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. After that he went right into rehearsals for his third year in “A Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie.
When the show ended on December 30th, Moy went right to work on his role at Chanhassen and started rehearsals on January 18th.
“So while there wasn’t really much of a break, it was exciting to move right into another theatre project,” said Moy. “I feel really lucky to get to do this.”
Moy was just starting grammar school when he took an interest in magic. After taking piano and voice lessons, he took an interest in acting and landed his first role in Timothy Cratchit’s Christmas Carol at the Guthrie in 2008. He was just seven when he joined the cast of Willy Wonka, and then Baseball Saved Us with a Stages Theater Company and Mu Performing Arts; and the Lyric Arts production of Bridge to Terabithia.
“Every production I’ve done has taught me to work hard and be flexible because each theater experience is unique,” said Moy.
Jesus Christ Superstar was groundbreaking as the first rock opera when it debuted in 1972 from Sir Tim Rice and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is considered a theatrical masterpiece, based on St. John’s Gospel account of the last week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the musical dramatizes Jesus and his disciples’ joyous arrival in Jerusalem, the unrest caused by his teaching and popularity, his betrayal, trial and crucifixion.
The powerful overture remains one of the most recognized pieces of theatrical music, along with other familiar songs such as “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” made famous by Hawaiian native and 70s disco diva Yvonne Elliman who costarred as Mary Magdalene in the original Broadway cast and the 1973 film.
The Chanhassen production celebrates the life of Jesus and his teachings to bring about change in peoples’ lives.
Resident Artistic Director Michael Brindisi said this production has a feeling of timelessness because the story is timeless.
“Nayna Ramey’s set design reflects the ancient. In contrast, Rich Hamson’s costumes feel more futuristic – textured, layered, working class. We want the audience to get the sense that this is a story for all people and for all times, including our own. And we’d hope that in telling the story, people will walk away changed for the better.”
He went on to say that this is likely the most moving and powerful piece ever done at Chanhassen.
“It is our intention to explore the drama of the piece – not the spectacle, and to let the ensemble tell the story in a way that will touch and inspire people to explore their own faith. I can tell you that as I was preparing to direct this show I was deeply inspired to revisit my own faith – I can’t explain it, it just affected me, and in a significant way.”
Jesus Christ Superstar is on the Main Stage presented by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. For tickets call 952-934-1552 or online at www.chanhassendt.com.