San Diego

One Actress’ New Take on Mary Magdalene in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

Regardless of whether audiences have seen the musical, many audiences come in knowing the story of Jesus Christ -- and Mary Magdalene.

Aaron LaVigne and Jenna Rubaii and the company of the North American Tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Photo by Matthew Murphy WEB.
Matthew Murphy

When audiences sit down to watch the story of Jesus Christ at the Civic Theatre in November, they may be surprised to find a new interpretation of Mary Magdalene. 

"There are so many different Mary's that you hear about," Actress Jenna Rubaii, who plays Mary, told NBC 7 San Diego. "And I think she becomes this mix of things." 

"Jesus Christ Superstar," the iconic 1970 rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, tells the story of Jesus Christ and his disciples in the final weeks of his life. 

Regardless of whether audiences have seen the musical, many audiences come in knowing the story of Jesus Christ -- and Mary Magdalene. 

Audiences also come into the musical with a certain idea of Mary in their minds. When people think of Mary, they think of many iterations of Mary: Mary the prostitute or Mary the Apostle, for example. 

"I loved the way that [the creative time] approached her in this production," Rubaii said. "As a healer, and a peacemaker, and the true devoted follower." 

In previous productions of the musical, the character of Mary may not spend much time on stage. 

But in this new production, directed by Timothy Sheader, Mary is on stage during many scenes as one of the followers. It helps paint the picture that Mary was more than a romantic interest for Jesus, Rubaii said. 

"She really is the only female with all the men, making her a strong feminine figure against this group of masculinity," Rubaii said. 

It's not the only shift audiences can expect to see, Rubaii said. This production of the iconic musical takes its inspiration from the original concept album in the 70s and modernizes it. 

"[Our show] doesn't give you a time or a place, but I think it's near with the set design and the costumes, it looks like it could still be in the desert, but it has a little bit of a modern flare." 

More than anything, Rubaii said, the 50th anniversary production gives audiences the rare opportunity to interpret a story they may have read or seen many times in their own way, through dance and song. 

"It's a little less literal and a little more free for interpretation, which I think is really neat to see in the show, especially when you know it so well," Rubaii said. 

The 50th anniversary tour of "Jesus Christ Superstar" runs from Nov. 12 to Nov. 17 at the San Diego Civic Theatre. To get tickets, click here

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