Jesus is a blazing commodity these days: The Passion of the Christ is poised to be one of the top-five grossing films ever. Easter's this week. And Jesus Christ Superstar returns to Playhouse Square on Tuesday. Yes, it's a good time to be Lord. "All of the Bible guys are hot right now," corrects Lawrence Clayton, who plays Judas in the production.
Unlike the flesh-shredding of Mel Gibson's movie, Superstar is a decidedly less bloody, more musical take on the subject. "We have a much sweeter story," Clayton says. "The movie is about suffering. Our show is more about Jesus's struggle with the things he has to do."
And while Jesus is the star of The Passion, Clayton says his Judas deserves co-billing here. "Superstar is told from Judas's point of view. He's an emotional guy. He's in angst and agony over what he needs and what he thinks is right." Jesus Christ Superstar is at the Palace Theatre (1519 Euclid Avenue) Tuesday through April 25. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $23 to $58, available by calling 216-241-6000. -- Michael Gallucci
On the road with the Great Lakes Theater Festival.
Daniel Hahn likes the idea of bringing theater to the people. "It might not be convenient for some to come [downtown] to see a play," explains the Great Lakes Theater Festival's director of education. "We want them to know that we care about our community enough to send something out to them." So this year's outreach touring production, Ten in One, will hit 20 local venues -- schools, libraries, and churches on both the east and west sides of town -- over the next three weeks. But the play, an original drama about chasing the American Dream, is just the tip of the fest's free outreach program. Workshops, post-performance lectures, and even a Shakespearean songwriting contest are lined up. "We want to raise the issues that these great plays that we produce raise," Hahn says. "What makes a play timeless and universal is that it speaks to something in everybody." Ten in One kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Stocker Center Studio Theatre, 1005 Abbe Road in Elyria. Call 216-241-5490 for a complete schedule of times and locations. -- Diane Sofranec
Four Tet plugs in and makes an electronic classic.
You won't find a warmer, more complex electronic album released last year than Four Tet's Rounds. Manipulating computer-generated sounds into a series of digital, lo-fi patterns, Four Tet (an alias of Londoner Kieran Hebden, who's also a member of the post-rock combo Fridge) makes music that's daringly experimental on one level, hauntingly melodic on another. Rounds reveals new layers with each listen, skittering along its synthetic but inviting grooves. It's dream-pop electronica, open to just about any interpretation. Four Tet is at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $10, available by calling 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci
4/9-5/2 Agnes of God would make any Catholic think twice about going to confession. A nun strangles her newborn baby and conceals its body within the convent's walls. A shrink wants to know if she's nuts or if divine intervention is at work. Find out at the Beck Center for the Arts' Studio Theater (17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood) Friday through May 2. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 to $22; call 216-521-2540. -- Cris Glaser