Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

FROM CHEESE TO JESUS ; Performer's Perception Changed by Show; the Rest Is History

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

FROM CHEESE TO JESUS ; Performer's Perception Changed by Show; the Rest Is History

Article excerpt

WANT TO GO? Charleston Light Opera Guild presents Jesus Christ Superstar WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11 and 12, 2 p.m. Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19 WHERE: Charleston Civic Center Little Theater TICKETS: $25 INFO: Call 304-343-2287 or visit

Ryan Hardiman has been one of the go-to guys in local musical theater for years. Through one acting company or another, he has been "the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast, played Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables, and was the title role in "Sweeny Todd. But Hardiman, who performs as Jesus in the Charleston Light Opera Guild's production of "Jesus Christ Superstar, which opens Friday night at the Civic Center Little Theater, almost didn't get into musical theater in the first place.

"I had this idea that musical theater, that Broadway, was unrealistic, he said. "It was cheesy. One minute you had a scene with dialogue, the next they were bursting into song. That was a real hurdle for me to get over.

Everything changed 18 years ago with Contemporary Youth Action Company's production of "Jesus Christ Superstar.

Hardiman hadn't planned on auditioning.

"I was singing karaoke at the time and had been for a while, he explained. "I became friends with the people who ran the karaoke. They'd listened to what I sang and the kind of music I tended to gravitate toward and just asked me if I'd seen the show.

Of course, he hadn't. Hardiman thought all of that stuff was cheesy.

"Once I watched the movie, it changed my mind. It changed my perception of what musical theater could be, he said.

Hardiman liked the pop/rock opera aesthetic of the film. The music was more contemporary and there wasn't a lot of changing gears from dialogue to singing.

He auditioned for CYAC, won the role of Jesus, and the rest is really history.

Since 1998, Hardiman has played the role of Jesus four times, including this year's performance.

"I've actually been in Jesus Christ Superstar' four times, he said. "This performance with Charleston Light Opera Guild will be my fifth.

It's not an easy role, and in a lot of ways, Hardiman said, playing Jesus on stage isn't what some might expect. …

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