Tag: jesus christ superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar: Vocal Preparation

IMG_0822From Signature Theatre’s (Arlington, VA) production last spring to the NBC Live Broadcast on Easter Sunday to our local high school’s production this month, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1971 hit has been popular this past year. Jesus Christ Superstar is very on point with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s  material (sometimes classified as “poperetta”) with hits from the show being widely popular radio songs as well.  Vocals are at the forefront as this is an entirely sung-through show and a wide vocal range and ability to sing in a plethora of styles is simply present throughout the entire score.

Rock Opera Vocal Technique

  1. Warm-ups for this type of show are key! I work with all of my singers to make sure they have a balanced instrument so even if they’re in a hard rock with edge place for an entire show, I always incorporate light humming and lip trills into our warm-up. I think it’s a great idea to go down a scale (sol-fa-mi-re-do) on a bub or mum and allow yourself access to a vocal fry sound, work through pentatonic scales, and make some ugly sounds with your tongue all the way out (yeah or nyeah or weah) in a higher belt/mix register. With men, a falsetto warm-up that leads itself toward a falsetto mix is awesome for this show; getting this sound without strain is essential. I cannot stress enough that if it feels painful to sing, you are doing something wrong. Even if your character is physically in pain, your voice should not be.
  2. Beware of gratuitous riffing, growling, and stereotypical rock trends. While Jesus Christ Superstar absolutely utilized rock (not Broadway) singers in the original production and we want that type of sound, it’s important to understand how to implement your own voice into the style without mimicry or what I like to say is “pretending you’re on American Idol” when you’re in fact still in a musical with a cohesive storyline. There are moments in the Jesus Chris Superstar score that are marked ad lib so knowing how to riff (especially in the characters of Jesus and Judas) and going there both dramatically and vocally is what makes it so powerful.
  3. Vocal Health: drink lots of water, get enough sleep, don’t abuse your voice, be careful of too much singing or speaking on show days are all things we’ve heard time and again. If you feel tired after a show, that’s normal and okay; you’ve just taken us on an enormous journey and may need to rest. I just always want my students to understand the difference between feeling tired and feeling like you’ve completely blown out or demolished your vocal chords. It’s easy to push or strain when you’re working on a high rock belt sound. It’s much harder to create a nuanced performance with vocal choices that are stylistically correct and healthy.

Jesus Christ Superstar is playing at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, VA through April 28th. Special shout-out to the freshman playing Jesus, Brevan Collins, who I have been teaching for over four years and who continually puts in the work when prepping for roles, auditions, and building his technique.

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Summer Programs for the Broadway Bound Teen

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The Sound of Music at PeachCraft Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory in Summit, NJ Director: Aimee Barnes

It’s time to start thinking about summer programs if your middle or high schooler is planning on furthering their musical theatre studies this summer. Even though it’s still February, summer is just around the corner and there are many local programs in the DC metro area that are fantastic!

1. Aimee Bee Inc will be offering a one week half-day workshop intensive for students to learn about contemporary musical theatre. It will take place from 9:30am to 1pm, June 27 through July 1, in Alexandria, VA. We will be exploring songs from shows that are currently on Broadway and the week will culminate in a cabaret style performance. Check out my website for more details and email me with any questions.

2. Signature Theatre’s Stage One is a two-week workshop for ages 14 to 17. Auditions are held in Arlington, VA on March 26th or by video submission. Taking place at this Tony award winning theatre, students are immersed in musical theatre for two weeks. Click here for more information!

3. Theatre Lab’s Summer Musical Theatre Institute produces two full-scale musicals each summer over a three-week experience. This summer, students ages 13 to 19 can audition for either or both Jesus Christ Superstar and Carousel. It’s a great opportunity for students to gain performance experience on a large production. Check out their website for more details.

4. High School Summer Musical Theatre Institute at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC offers rising high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to hone their musical theatre skills in a two-week residential program. Click here for more information!

If you’re looking to improve your musical theatre skill set this summer, there is absolutely a program in our local area that will fit your goals.

Did I miss any local programs that you would recommend to your friends interested in Broadway? Please comment and let me know if there’s another program I should add to my list and tell my students about. I’m always excited to learn more!