Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Video Preview: Darren Lee Choreographs JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Music Theatre Wichita, July 27-31

Darren Lee

Darren Lee

Music Theatre Wichita is presenting the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, July 27-31, at the 2100-seat Century II Concert Hall located at Century II Performing Arts Center, 225 W. Douglas, Wichita, KS, 67202.

Jesus Christ Superstar reimagines the last seven days leading up to the death of Christ told through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. The opera traces Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem, the Betrayal, Passion and Crucifixion.

The production features Thaddeus Pearson (West Side Story West End) as Jesus, Avery Smith (Damn Yankees PCLO) as Judas, and Erin Clemons (Les Miserables) as Mary Magdaglene. Other leading actors include Broadway veterans Tony LePage (Rock of Ages) as Pilate and Aaron Kaburick (Something Rotten) as Herod. Featured resident company members include Jared Thomas Roberts as Caiaphas, Jon Paul Roby as Annas, and Tyler Leahy as Simon the Zealot.

Music Theatre Wichita’s new production will feature a fresh take on the 1971 musical through direction by Joe Locarro and choreography by Darren Lee (with assistance from associate choreographer Marjorie Failoni).

Other key members of the artistic team include musical director / conductor Thomas W. Douglas, hair and makeup designer Taylor Malott, lighting designer David Neville, millinery designer Megan Reed, and sound designer David Muehl.

This revolutionary, award-winning musical with a 70’s infused rock vibe, features legendary hits such as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Heaven On Their Minds” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” First introduced to audiences as a concept album in 1970, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice changed the sound of Broadway in 1971. A feature film hit screens in 1973 bringing this magnificent score to the masses on the air waves as well. JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR has had Broadway revivals in 1977, 2000 and 2012, U.S. tours, with London productions and tours as well.

For additional information, visit www.mtwichita.org.

Single tickets ($64 – $26) go on sale May 31. Additional information can be found at www.mtwichita.org or by calling 316.265.3107. Music Theatre Wichita offices and Concert Hall are located at Century II Performing Arts Center, 225 W. Douglas, Wichita, KS, 67202.

Mary Magdalene (Erin Clemons) sits at the feet of Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) as Judas (Avery Smith) questions why Jesus would spend time with her. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Mary Magdalene (Erin Clemons) sits at the feet of Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) as Judas (Avery Smith) questions why Jesus would spend time with her. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Mary Magdalene (Erin Clemons) assures Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) that 'everything's alright'. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Mary Magdalene (Erin Clemons) assures Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) that ‘everything’s alright’. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

The company of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR sings 'Hosanna' to Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson). Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

The company of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR sings ‘Hosanna’ to Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson). Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) faces his fate in the garden of Gethsemane as the disciples sleep. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) faces his fate in the garden of Gethsemane as the disciples sleep. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Herod (Aaron Kaburick) and company challenge Jesus to prove that he is God. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Herod (Aaron Kaburick) and company challenge Jesus to prove that he is God. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Pilate (Tony LePage) tries to reason with Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) in front of the angry crowd. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Pilate (Tony LePage) tries to reason with Jesus (Thaddeus Pearson) in front of the angry crowd. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Judas (Avery Smith) leads the company in the title song from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

Judas (Avery Smith) leads the company in the title song from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Photo Credit: Christopher Clark

A native of Southern California, director/choreographer Darren Lee began his career at age 11 as a contestant on Jr. Star Search. Shortly thereafter he became a series regular on Kids Incorporated, a Disney Channel favorite. In the years following he appeared in a variety of national commercials, television shows, and feature films such as Hackers, playing a role (Razor) opposite Angelina Jolie. He also danced alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger in the Academy Award-winning film Chicago. By the early ’90s, Lee relocated to New York, advancing his career into the new millennium with Broadway roles in ChicagoGuys and Dolls, and in the original companies of AllegianceShogun the MusicalMiss SaigonVictor/Victoria with Julie Andrews, Kiss Me KateOn the TownSeussical the MusicalPacific Overturesand Thoroughly Modern Millie.

After 18 years as a Broadway performer, Lee refocused his energies on directing and choreography. His Broadway work includes associate choreographer on Pacific Overtures, and other New York productions include:  History of War (NYMF), Heading East starring B.D. Wong (Asia Society), Bronx Express (Fringe Festival), Andy Warhol Was Right (NYMF), and Stephen Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Celebration (New Amsterdam). His regional credits include: The Music Man (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Miss Saigon (St. Louis MUNY, Paper Mill Playhouse, Music Theatre of Wichita); Smokey Joe’s Café (Music Theatre of Wichita); Kiss Me Kate (Glimmerglass Opera Festival); Herringbone starring B.D. Wong (La Jolla Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Shakespeare Festival); Up in the Air (Japan Festival, Washington DC); Thoroughly Modern Millie (Diamond Head Theatre, Hawaii); Chicago (Riverside Theatre, Vero Beach, Florida); Carnival (UNLV); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Westchester Broadway, New York); Pacific Overtures (North Shore, Cincinnati Playhouse, Atlanta Alliance); Jesus Christ Superstar, Aida, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Fantasticks, Little Shop of Horrors, and Godspell (MUNY); Guys and Dolls (Trinity University, Texas); High School Musical (Lyric Theatre, La Comedia, Casa Manana); High School Musical 2 (Lyric Theatre); and Christmas with the Symphony 2007-2009 (Omaha Symphony).

Darren has also taken his skills overseas, directing and choreographing numerous Japanese productions including: Turandot (Tokyo); CopacabanaFancy DanceThe Love at Dalu Lake (Takarazuka Revue Company); The 10,000 Person Show (Tokyo Electric); and Bryant Park, a completely original dance musical he was commissioned to conceive, direct, choreograph, and take on tour to cities all across Japan.

Mr. Lee has several productions that are currently playing on international waters. They include: Disney Wishes, which premiered on the brand new Disney Cruise Line ship The Fantasy in March (2012).  Most recently, Mr. Lee developed and served as the director for TableauPlaybackEverAfterSoundstage and All For Love (2014) for the Holland America Cruise Line’s Eurodam.

About Music Theatre Wichita – Founded in 1972, MTWichita is internationally recognized for self-producing five high-quality Broadway-scale productions each summer during an intense 10-week period, while providing unparalleled learning experiences for young up-and coming artists. It has been the site for the world premiere of the revised “Good News!,” the U.S. premiere of “Betty Blue Eyes,” and the regional premieres of such Disney titles as “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “High School Musical.” MTWichita has also created cast albums for “Honk!” and “Good News!” The many MTWichita alumni performing on Broadway this season include Sasha Hutchings, Alex Finke, Ashley Park, Ryan Vasquez, Colin Israel, Kimber Elayne Sprawl, Alex Michael Stoll, Brian Shepard, Eric Sciotto, and many more. Other notable artists who began careers in Wichita include Kelli O’Hara, Kristin Chenoweth, and choreographers Andrew Palermo, Josh Rhodes, Josh Prince, and Dontee Kiehn.

Broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: First Look at Music Theatre Wichita’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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