Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



NUNN ON ONE THEATER Heath Saunders takes lead in 'Jesus Christ Superstar'
Extended for the online version of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

This article shared 1558 times since Tue May 15, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The 1970 groundbreaking musical Jesus Christ Superstar—which Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created—continues to rise in popularity to this day, thanks to a recent live version on TV and a new production at the Lyric Opera.

Set in 30 A.D., Jesus Christ Superstar opens with Judas Iscariot criticizing Jesus; the plot unfolds in song from there. There is little spoken dialogue in this story and, instead, has dynamic music that has thrilled audiences for generations while garnering five Tony nominations.

Heath Saunders leads the talented cast as Jesus Christ and brings experience from past shows like Spamalot, Les Miserables and Hairspray: In Concert.

For NBC Live, Saunders was in the ensemble and played guitar. He studied musical theater at the University in Miami and has worked with a variety of musical instruments over the years.

Windy City Times: Start off with where you are from.

Heath Sanders: I grew up outside of Seattle in Kirkland, Washington. I moved to New York about four years ago now.

WCT: What is your ethnicity?

HS: My dad is Black and my mom is white. I am super-American, as my family has been here since the beginning of America. We can track back one side to John Adams and the other to American slavery.

WCT: Was your family always supportive of you being queer?

HS: I have two moms now, so yes. My mom and dad were divorced when I was 6. My mom married my stepmom and I was raised by two women. My dad lived three blocks away.

WCT: So you could be whatever you wanted to be.

HS: Yes, and I am very interested in labels, which is why I care about "queer" as a term. For me, queer is about pushing back on labels and queering the narrative. My mantra as an artist is saying things don't have to be a certain way. We can twist those things.

Same thing with race, as I am neither Black nor white. There's a spectrum of race, gender and sexual identity.

WCT: Did you always want to be in musicals growing up?

HS: Sort of. I started as a musician. I played cello, oboe, piano and saxophone through school. My middle-school band teacher said that if I wanted to make a living as an instrumentalist that I should play in pits of musicals. We watched musicals in class like My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof.

When we watched West Side Story a very white community theater was looking for Sharks. Me and my brothers, three of whom live in New York with me and are performers currently, all auditioned for West Side Story. The theater did about three musicals a year so by the time I graduated I had done 24 musicals. Some of them were original musicals and then I went to school to study composition. I accidentally fell back into performing.

WCT: What was I Am Harvey Milk, which was on your resume?

HS: Andrew Lippa wrote an oratorio situation that I did a reading of before I moved to New York in 2014. It wound up culminating in Lincoln Center with 120 Broadway men singing in the chorus.

WCT: Talk about being cast in Jesus Christ Superstar.

HS: I just finished doing Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. I found out I got both parts the same day but if I did them I would have no day off.

The audition process for the Lyric one was hilarious because I went in as a swing cover for Jesus and Judas. I had to prepare everything in the show!

After many auditions with this show, I was called in for the Live show as the Judas understudy. They noticed I knew the show really well, but that was because I had been auditioning for it for weeks. I got the call offering me both jobs the next Monday.

WCT: Talk about Good Friday—that was a good Monday! What are the differences between Live and the Lyric?

HS: There are similarities in aesthetic, such as the scaffolding and a beat up world. My way of dressing is actually the same in both shows. It's how I dress every day.

The biggest difference is the approach to the material as performers. With NBC Live, we were focused on the story and defining the characters. Here at the Lyric as a performer, it feels a lot less like acting and more like doing a concert. A lot of the language in the show is about going to the gig. I sing at a mic stand so it is like I am doing a show as an artist being asked to sing. It blurs the lines of reality a little more aggressively. You get a little peek of Heath the performer.

In approach, the two are opposite of each other.

WCT: Do you have a favorite song in the show?

HS: "Judas' Death" has the greatest music reprise of anything ever written. It has a beautiful moment. Musically, "Damned for All Time" is my favorite, though.

"Gethsemane" has a special place in my heart, also. The terror of having to sing that song is a moment!

WCT: What did you think of Alice Cooper being in the Live show?

HS: He is so charming and the nicest guy. I was terrified of him as a child. Little Heath had a very different impression of him.

WCT: Jesus Christ Superstar is going on tour next year?

HS: Yes, but I just heard about that, though. This Lyric production and the tour are both Regent Parks Open Air Theatre's productions but are not otherwise related.

WCT: Are you working on any future projects?

HS: I am writing a musical with my mother and star in opposite my brother. It is called Newton's Cradle. We are going to do a reading of it this summer to find a house for it.

It's about a young man who is on the autistic spectrum coping with grief and confusion about identity in life. It is a family drama taking place across 30 years, and is nonlinear. It's combining Fun Home and Curious Incident into one show, with shades of Light in the Piazza and Next to Normal.

Jesus Christ Superstar rocks now through Sunday, May 20, at the Lyric Opera, 20 N. Upper Wacker Dr., with tickets at .

This article shared 1558 times since Tue May 15, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Kokandy Productions announces 2023 Season 2023-03-22
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 22, 2023) — Kokandy Productions is thrilled to announce its 2023 season, including two fully produced musicals, plus plans for the return of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. This summer, Kokandy will dive into ...

Gay News

Opera Preview: Life of gay World War II hero Alan Turing transformed into a world-premiere opera 2023-03-17
- It has taken a decade for The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing to grow from an idea into a full- fledged opera. Chicago Opera Theater stages the world premiere of composer Justine F. Chen and ...

Gay News

Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project to present dance concert 'Sans Pareil' 2023-03-14
--From a press release - Deeply Rooted Dance Theater joins the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project again to take the stage in a dance concert entitled Sans Pareil—French for "unparalleled," a nod to the Haitian lineage of Chicago's founder, Jean-Baptiste Pointe ...

Gay News

House Musical, Coming of Age in the Age of House, coming to Hoover-Leppen Theatre 2023-03-14
--From a press release - Campsongs Productions presents the world premiere of House Musical - Coming of Age in the Age of House, with book by Marcus Waller, music by Scott Free (with Michael Foley) and lyrics by Scott Free and ...

Gay News

RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD in Chicago Aug. 4 2023-03-12
--From a press release - RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD, the largest drag show on earth, returns in 2023 with a show in Chicago Aug. 4 and in 100+ cities across the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe and Mexico! ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal 2023-03-10
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...

Gay News

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2023 Gala May 13 at The Old Post Office 2023-03-06
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 6, 2023) — The Steppenwolf Ensemble and Board of Trustees are pleased to host Steppenwolf 2023 Gala—an unforgettable evening celebrating 47 years of powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. Emceed ...

Gay News

Center on Halsted presents annual Intergenerational Talent Show 2023-03-06
- On March 2, Center on Halsted hosted its Fifth Annual Intergenerational Talent Show, featuring performances from participants from the Youth and Family Services and the Senior Services programs. Participants in the free event presented a program ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed' 2023-03-04
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...

Gay News

Theater Review: one in two 2023-03-01
- Playwright: Donja R. Love. At: PrideArts at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway Tickets: 773-857-0222; $35. Runs through March 19 Playwright Donja R. Love stresses that lower case letters should be used for the title of ...

Gay News

The Jeff Awards to honor Myrna Salazar with special non-Equity honor 2023-03-01
--From a Jeff Awards press release - (March 1, 2023 - Chicago) — Recognizing a lifetime of theater excellence, the Joseph Jefferson Awards will honor the late arts activist Myrna Salazar at the organization's 49th Anniversary Non-Equity Awards celebration on Monday, March 2 ...

Gay News

PrideArts presents 'one in two' 2023-02-22
--From a press release - Title: one in two. By Donja R. Love/ Directed by Jordan Ratlliff Monday, Feb. 20 - 7:30 p.m. Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago One in two Black men in America who have sex with other men will be diagnosed ...

Gay News

Christine Heesun Hwang personifies Eponine in Les Miserables 2023-02-19
- Out performer Christine Heesun Hwang "dreamed a dream" of joining the cast one of Les Miserables—now showing at the Cadillac Palace Theater—and now she's made that dream into a reality. Set in 19th-century France, Les Miserables ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Black queer films, Janet Jackson, Paramore, WNBA, GALECA contest 2023-02-19
- Queerty ran a piece on 10 films that celebrate Black queer love. Some of them include The Skinny (with Jussie Smollett), Dee Rees' movie Pariah, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the Marlon Riggs classic Tongues Untied, Brother to ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Cabaret continues to reflect on our modern challenges 2023-02-14
- Title: Cabaret. Book: Joe Masteroff; Score: John Kander & Fred Ebb. At: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. Tickets: 773-777-9884 or; prices begin at $25. Runs through ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.