West End native Korey White is glad to be going back to his gospel and church roots with his role as James, one of the apostles in Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” as part of the Broadway at the Byham series.
“I had never seen Jesus Christ Superstar, but I kept hearing that it was one of the greatest shows and I wanted to be a part of it,” said White, 23, who graduated from Robert Morris University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication.
|SAVING SOULS—Korey White performs as James in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (Photo by Patti Brahim)
“This show deals with putting a lot of words into a small space. The music draws a lot of people together. It is a musically challenging and musically talented show.”
The rock opera, which was written by Andrew Lloyd Weber with music by Tim Rice, takes audiences on an emotional journey through Christ’s supersonic rise, his last days on earth and his crucifixion through the eyes of his betrayer, Judas Iscariot.
Judas is upset with the direction that Jesus is taking his disciples. Consequently, political and interpersonal struggles ensue between the two.
“When I found out who I was playing, I went back to the Bible to see who James was. There are two Jameses in the Bible. One is Jesus’ brother and the other is someone else’s brother. I decided to make this character Jesus’ brother who would stand behind him 100 percent,” said White whose past performances with Pittsburgh Musical Theater include “Aida,” “Rent,” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
“James falls off the wagon and begins following the other apostles by the time the Last Supper comes along. It was hard for me to do the crucifixion mob scene because it makes you feel like you are one of the ones hurting Jesus. It was hard for all of us (in that scene) not to cry. I had to realize that by that point, James doesn’t care,” White said.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” was first staged for Broadway in 1971. Hailed as “epic,” the show moved on to theaters in Paris and London. A film adaptation was also made of the show and numerous other theater productions, both regional and national, followed.
The production is currently running on Broadway, which both daunted and uplifted White.
“I just found out a few weeks ago that it was running on Broadway. It was a bit scary but I know that this cast is great and I know we’re going to put on an amazing show,” White said.