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Alliance hosting ?Superstar'

By Trina Trice

For more than 10 years actor Mark Sandro has been singing on stage as Jesus.

The self-employed artist is doing it again in the Clayton Alliance for Summer Theatre production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center.

Sandro is part of a six-member team of professionals that has traveled the country, performing the musical in community theaters. He estimates they must have performed "Jesus Christ Superstar" at least 200 times.

Although he is used to the logistics of playing the role of Jesus, Sandro admits it is not always easy.

"At first it was kind of hard," he said. "I didn't know how I should act. I just let the music (direct him). I wasn't quite sure how to portray the greatest man who ever walked on the earth."

The reaction to his portrayal is sometimes mixed. At home in Florida, Sandro has a box that contains "gifts," such as prayer cards and beads that he received from people who had seen the show.

"(The musical) is telling the Easter story," Sandro said. "The words are still the same, but just said a little different. I guess the people that have a problem with the show is because there's no (depiction of the) resurrection. The musical is really seen through Judas' eyes, not Jesus' eyes."

Michael McGoorty plays the controversial role of Judas, the apostle who betrays Jesus to the Roman court.

"It's my favorite role," he said. "I really get a lot of sympathy for the role."

Playing Roman official Pontius Pilate is professional actor Ethan Wilcox. He credits Mark Clark, director of "Jesus Christ Superstar" with giving him his first break in the entertainment business.

"Mark gave me the opportunity to play the role," Wilcox said. "It was the biggest theatrical opportunity I ever had. It laid the groundwork for my career."

Wilcox has been amazed at the ability of the local performers who had practiced six weeks prior to the arrival of Clark's ensemble of professional actors.

Clark, originally from Forest Park, directed the CAST production of "Aladdin" at the PAC earlier this summer. Joining the forces of professional and amateur actors has been successful, Clark believes.

"The heart these people have, they come out on stage ?cause they want to be there," he said. "They're not getting paid, they're putting their lives on hold. It's a wonderful thing, their spirit is alive.

"As long as people are passionate about the art, there's no difference between the professional and the amateur. Their devotion and excitement for the show, it's amazing."

Michael Harrison as King Herod and Michael Reese on lights round out the guest stars for this weekend's "Jesus Christ Superstar."