How do you prepare to play Jesus? For Luke Kennedy, the answer is simple: “Lots and lots of reading.”
“My beside table looks like a theological library at the moment,” reveals the tenor, who takes to the stage in Jesus Christ Superstar from August 19 in Harvest Rain Theatre Company’s production at the QPAC Playhouse. “There are so many fantastic books that look at the life of Jesus from so many different points of view, and I’m just trying to absorb as much as I can.”
This isn’t the first time Kennedy has played the lead part in Jesus Christ Superstar. He took on the role as his first major principal part for the North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre in 2001, and again in Harvest Rain’s previous production. But Kennedy isn’t using past experience as an excuse to take it easy.
“It’s a role that has such as great level of expectation,” he says. “Not only is Jesus Christ Superstar challenging vocally, but from an acting standpoint. I love the daunting task of bringing to life a character that audiences have their own emotional expectations of, and who himself is locked in an unthinkably complex emotional battle of his own.”
After finishing two years on the road with The Ten Tenors, Kennedy could be forgiven for wanting to take some time off in 2010. Instead, he’s launching his debut album, Overexposed, at the end of July. A glance at the Luke Kennedy Facebook page suggests fans are counting down the days, but does that title mean he’s actually getting a bit sick of the limelight?
“I’d been out of Brisbane for nearly two years and had very little exposure to audiences back home, so it kind of made sense in my warped sense of humour to call the album ‘overexposed,’” Kennedy explains. “Although the title started out as a light-hearted thing, I’m seriously excited about the material.”
That material includes songs by artists like Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Tina Turner, and Blondie. Some keen fans have already been listening to Kennedy’s cover of Lennon’s Instant Karma, which popped up on YouTube a few weeks ago.
“I heard Instant Karma for the first time when I was about 14 and loved it!” Kennedy says. “I’ve tried to get every band I have played in since then to perform that song, but could never convince them.”
The online response so far suggests Kennedy’s fans are very convinced. In between rehearsals, the tenor is keeping the lines of communication open, sharing videos, songs, photos and updates via Facebook and Twitter.
“I love Twitter because it’s totally relaxed,” Kennedy says, admitting that almost anything is worthy of a Twitter update. “I like the feeling that it’s connecting quickly, and almost individually with my fans.”
So now we know how Kennedy is preparing to play Jesus, the next question is, how does he wind down after a performance?
“It takes me hours to wind down after a show,” Kennedy admits, “But a couple of beers normally slows my tempo quite nicely. Coopers pale ale, if you’re asking.”
Harvest Rain's Jesus Christ Superstar opens August 19, 2010. Further information»