Oct. 23--At a point in his life when he expected to be starting his second year in college, 19-year-old Jake Stern is instead about to tour the United States as Jesus in a new production of "Godspell."
"I've put that on hold," the Canadian actor said in a recent phone interview, adding that last year, when he was about to go to college, he landed an agent from his work on an earlier production of the Stephen Schwartz musical about Jesus and his followers.
The agent lined up film work in Toronto and then a chance to repeat his performance as Jesus in the U.S. "Godspell" tour that is being launched at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven on Friday, Oct. 25.
"I'm looking forward to seeing America. I've only ever been to South Carolina ... once," he said.
The Canadian production received rave reviews last year, most of which cited the youthful energy of the ensemble.
Stern attributes the power of the show to the tight company of actors who work together as a unit.
"We are all on stage together the entire time. ... I love that about it," the actor said. "It's a really cool experience and several audience members have told me they can't believe the energy (of the production)."
"Godspell" is about the community of Jesus and his followers -- played out through a soft-rock score that established Schwartz's name before he would add "Pippin" and "Wicked" to his list of hit musicals.
Schwartz was among the last of the show-tune composers to score a Top-10 hit, with the recording of "Day by Day" that ruled the pop charts in 1972.
"It is a community-based show, so it helps to have a cast like ours. We will do a two-hour show and then watch a movie together. ... The show really reflects us," he said.
The theater bug bit Stern two years ago when he had a chance to work in a production of "Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada.
"That was an awesome experience. ... I got very good at carrying furniture on and off the stage," he joked.
Then, Stern had a chance to see the theater's acclaimed production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" -- which would move on to a Broadway engagement -- and he started to think about the possibility of a career in theater.
"I saw the show eight times. I realized that kind of musical, that kind of powerful performance, was what I wanted to do," he said.
The actor comes from a family that is more hockey-based than show tune-oriented.
"My parents do have some videos of me and my brother in our underwear singing songs from 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,' " he said, with a laugh. "But our whole family is into hockey. My dad was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings."
The actor said he feels "blessed" by the chance to tour in "Godspell" while he's still in his teens.
"I'm really lucky to be given an opportunity like this in such a beginning stage of my career."
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @joesview
Shubert Theater, 247 College St., New Haven. Friday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, at 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m. $85-$15. 800-745-3000. www.shubert.com
(c)2013 the Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Conn.)
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