Mitchell Crawley From:
The Courier-Mail June 17, 2011 10:47AM


Luke Kennedy as Jesus in Harvest Rain’s Jesus Christ Superstar Source: The Courier-Mail


Paul Watson promises to bring a fresh approach to the role of Judas in the latest run of Jesus Christ Superstar, writes Mitchell Crawley.

It’s a show that first premiered on Broadway almost 40 years ago, heralding a dream come true for a young Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The floods postponed its return Brisbane season for Harvest Rain Theatre Company, but Jesus Christ Superstar is now back in town.

Originally scheduled for a run earlier this year, audiences have an opportunity to see the show that packed the Queensland Performing Arts Centre last August.

Director Tim O’Connor has returned a similar cast and crew, including the big live band. One addition to the cast is Melbourne performer Paul Watson, who will play the role of Judas. Watson recently worked on Guys and Dolls and the Australian premiere season of Jersey Boys before taking time off for the birth of his son.

He admits to idolising the Australian cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, in particular Jon Stevens who played Judas, but says he will bring a fresh approach to the role.

“It’s hard to get the performance of Jon Stevens out of your head,” he says. “We grew up with that. Anyone who was interested in the show would have the same problem because they did such an amazing job. But I’m focused on making the singing sound like dialogue, not some Australian Idol-like performance.”

Another reason he took on the role was the opportunity to work with Harvest Rain Theatre Company and in particular O’Connor as director.

“From the first day we walked in for rehearsals we made a deal to start fresh, even though they had performed the show last year,” Watson says. “The way Tim is doing this one is that it’s post-apocalyptic, like gypsies are telling the story and tonight they’re doing the last days of Jesus Christ.”

Watson says everybody has a different opinion on the events leading to the death of Jesus, including the writers of the Bible, so in a way it suits theatre.

“It’s all about interpretation. Even the way Judas kills himself in this production is different from the last time, which is again different from the Bible,” he says.

Watson was excited to get away from the Melbourne and Sydney scenes, which he describes as currently beingĀ  at war with each other to secure the biggest and newest productions. Watson says the wealth of Brisbane’s talent continues to impress him. He predicts Harvest Rain will make big progress moving from amateur to professional.

“This is my first experience with them,” says Watson. “I didn’t know much about Harvest Rain and I’m really surprised with how they run their stuff. It’s refreshing.”

Naomi Price, who plays Mary, and Luke Kennedy, who plays Jesus, have impressed Watson also.

“Naomi has been driving and collecting me from the airport while Luke is an absolute star,” he says.

Jesus Christ Superstar is showing until June 26 at The Playhouse, QPAC. Tickets are available through QTIX on 136 246 or