Dorothy “Dottie” Danner is Back Directing the Rock n’ Roll Opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

[This is an excerpt from the original article ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ director boosts Duluth Playhouse production with impressive resume” written by Christa Lawler with the Duluth News Tribune.]

Fact: Jesus Christ Superstar was born as a concept album that toured as an arena show before the theatrical production opened in the early 1970s.

It’s the rock ’n’ roll story of the days leading to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, from the perspective of Judas (played locally by Evan Tyler Wilson). It’s a trickier production than Les Miserables because of its unconventional structure and its origin as an album, director Dorothy Danner said.

Director Dorothy Danner talks to actors during a recent rehearsal of the Duluth Playhouse’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (photo by Steve Kucera)

Director Dorothy Danner talks to actors during a recent rehearsal of the Duluth Playhouse’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (photo by Steve Kucera)

“There are no transitions,” she said. “The transitions are, you move the needle over. Some things flow, some things just stop.”

Danner is known for her research and in the case of Jesus Christ Superstar, she’s considered all sorts of angles: She wanted it political, and she considered the perspective of veterans. She revisited images of an all-woman cast of Julius Caesar. She got into the heads of the show’s creators.

“If Jesus came today, what would he see?” she wondered.

A glimpse at the set of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and how director Dorothy Danner is incorporating modern happenings into the production. (photo by Duluth Playhouse)

A glimpse at the set of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and how director Dorothy Danner is incorporating modern happenings into the production. (photo by Duluth Playhouse)

“She doesn’t let any emotion or any word (go) unturned in terms of exploring why that word was written into the show,” Cal Metts said. “How can it propel the story? How can it make your character more real and bigger on stage. Her research is incredible.”

This is Adam Sippola’s second time working with Danner. He was Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

“Her attention to detail and the subtle nuances of a scene is like a living painting,” he said. “It’s pretty remarkable. Working with her one-on-one with more principal work, she’s a really good actress, so her insight into the physicality of the actors and the intention behind the thought of an action is eye-opening.”

The pieces were in motion at the start of opening week. The actors were still getting notes as Danner continued to shape the show. It’s not a style that sits well with all actors, Danner said. Asked to describe herself as a director, she said, slowly:

“I’m a director that drives people who are structured quite mad,” she said.

It works for Sippola, though.

“I have a hunch that if she could stick around for all of the performances, she’d change it around every night,” Sippola said. “She has a very visual imagination. That’s my guess where all the enjoyment comes for her.”

To read the full article and learn more about director Dorothy Danner, visit duluthnewstribune.com.

Adam Sippola (center) portrays Jesus in the Duluth Playhouse’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which opens tonight. (photo by Steve Kucera)

Adam Sippola (center) portrays Jesus in the Duluth Playhouse’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which opens tonight. (photo by Steve Kucera)

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TICKETS AVAILABLE AND GOING FAST!

Runs April 16 through May 3
Wednesday – Saturday @ 7:30pm
Sundays @ 2:00pm
April 25 & May 2 – Saturday matinees @ 2:00pm
April 29 – ASL Interpreted performance

Get them online, call 218.733.7555, or stop by in-person at the box office (located in the Duluth Depot building at 506 West Michigan Street).

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