Glenn's Diary: Jesus Last Seven Days
26 Auguest 00- 3 September 00

About the Author: Glenn Carter just finished a six month run at Broadway's Ford Center as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Although he had never been seen on Broadway prior to the water-into-wine gig, he has substantial theater credentials abroad. Carter played the role of Jesus in a production of the musical in London’s West End, and will repeat the performance in the upcoming home video release. Other West End credits include leads in Alfie, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Whistle Down the Wind. He has contributed his voice to cast recordings for La Cage Aux Folles, Grease, Mack and Mabel, and, of course, Superstar. Here, Glenn kept a diary of Jesus' last week on the Great White Way for Broadway.com.




Sunday, August 26

Today is a bittersweet day to kick off the last seven days of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway. We performed an additional show on behalf of the Actors' Fund. This organization assists less fortunate people who work in all capacities within the film, radio, television, theater and opera industries. Over five thousand people a year benefit through sponsored social services, financial assistance and special housing. The entire JCS cast, stage management, company management and musicians donated their services for this worthy cause. Immediately following the curtain call, I had the pleasure of addressing the audience to explain the organization, their services and that benefit performances take place throughout the year across the country. All proceeds from tonight's performance in the amount of $80,000 are donated to the Actors' Fund. It was nice to see that the organization is supported not only by the Broadway community but also by individuals that want to contribute and help make a difference.

Today's show also marked the final performance of one of our popular cast members. David St. Louis will not be with us during our final week. He is taking a brief holiday before he moves on to a featured role in Golden Child. Although he has a fantastic cover, I am personally sad to see him leave because he has the safest shoulders in the business! David was responsible for carrying me off the cross and was instrumental whenever I am carried on/off stage throughout a performance. He has been my personal "rock" and a pleasure to work with. To my friend David, onward and upward!


Tuesday, August 29

Our director Gale Edwards returned to the theater today to say goodbye to the company. Unfortunately, she has a prior commitment and will not be able to attend the final performance. It was nice to see her before this journey comes to an end. I met Gale five years ago in London where we first began working on Jesus Christ Superstar. We have continued to work together on both the stage and film of JCS in addition to Whistle Down the Wind. Gale gathered the entire company in the green room and spoke of the journey we embarked on, beginning with our first day of rehearsals at the Westbeth Theater to our own individual growth as performers and people. There seems to be a somber feeling within the company. All of the vitality and focus of the performance remained, but the backstage feeling is something that I hope will not last the week. Clearly, there is unemployment for some of us and great opportunities for others. Truly, this should be a celebratory week of achievement and hope for the future. I hope we can all move on to our next stop knowing that we did our best in telling a story and touched the lives our audiences by pouring ourselves into our performances day after day. As Stephen Sondheim, the Shakespeare of musical theater wrote in Merrily We Roll Along, "You've gotta have endings or there wouldn't be beginnings." Right.


Wednesday, August 30

Truthfully, I have no idea what went on today surrounding the show. Both performances came and went in swift succession. My day began at 9am--as always on a matinee day. It is important to rise early to enable one's voice to settle before warming-up. This is truly invaluable! It is advisable to wake and just occupy yourself for two hours until your body wakes and does its system check. Your vocal chords, biologically speaking, are the least important aspect of your body with no function other than communication. (Unlike our kidneys, liver, heart or any of the major muscle groups, all of which have specific and obvious biological functions.) Hydrate your body in order for your organs to function to their optimum potential. Our body's management system pulls fluid from the areas of least importance first in case of insufficient hydration. The first of these being the voice--it is in fact the first to be dehydrated and the last to be hydrated in the bodies need for fluid. Therefore, it is a major priority to drink a large amount of water until your body is able to hydrate completely. This can take quite some time and require a lot of water! I drink approximately 2/3 gallon before I sing. It is also beneficial when vocalizing to remain hydrated throughout the day. Having said all of that, the day begins!

At 10am, I received a telephone call from my New York agent telling me that a recent television casting call I previously attended had gone well. It went so well that they decided NOT to cast me but recommended me for a featured role on another television series--and I would need to read for today. The sides, consisting of three scenes, were faxed over, and I had to learn them prior to my audition screen test at 6:15pm. On the face of it, it seemed great! Except for the fact that I had a two show day and a pre-arranged meeting at the theater with people who attend my website on a regular basis (glenn-carter.com) at 5pm. This meeting was something that I was not going to cancel. Sue Harris, a friend from London, organizes the glenn-carter.com website and flew over to arrange this meeting and to see the final performances of JCS. The support and commitment throughout this run has been extremely important to me.

After the meeting, I dashed out to my audition, which was downtown and miles away from the theater. I went over the sides a few times in the cab on the way over to the audition. It was literally the only time I had to prepare. When an actor reads for a part, it is favorable to know the script as it enables you to interpret what you are saying and where the character is going. I unfortunately didn't have the luxury of reading the script extensively, let alone learning it well enough to be off book. Despite the circumstances, I felt that I did the best I could to portray a character and now I just need to wait and see.

I arrived back at the theater at 7:25pm for the evening show without time to warm up or to hydrate my body. There is a great difference to an individual's voice after a two-show day and it is necessary to warm up lightly before the second show to sustain you. I only had a short time to briefly meditate, clear my thoughts and begin the second performance. The show sort of came and went in the whirlwind that the day began in. I survived and now it is time for some zzzzs…


Thursday, August 31

Thursday is the weirdest day of the week because it feels the shortest, although we are recovering from a two-show day. As far as the playing schedule goes. Fridays generally move quickly and Saturdays, along with Wednesdays, are the longest days due to a two-show day (2pm-8pm). Sunday performances are tiring because we had two shows the day before and we have a 3pm performance. Our turn-around time is quick, but at least we know that we have a day-and-a-half off.

Today, Thursday, people were pre-occupied with unemployment as today is our last payday. I stumbled onto several conversations with cast members planning to go to the unemployment office on Monday morning. I'm not sure if it is the same here, but for the majority of my career, I have noticed that the social security systems do not like actors. In the UK, the government activity is legislated to prevent us from recovering social security payment. This is bizarre to say the least, as those who are legislating against us have their own favorite TV programs, etc. Where do they think those actors come from? One minute someone is asking for your autograph and the next, they are calling you a "scrounge" who needs a "proper job"? Bizarre logic abounds in political circles I find! Anyway, today is the day that Andrew (my amazing assistant) and I decided to strip down our dressing rooms so there won't be as much for us to do on the last day.


Friday, September 1

Today was "Freaky Friday" as the photos indicate. The evening was full of madness and seems to have traveled throughout the building. I always wonder why the chemistry of the day travels throughout the building whether it is happiness or sadness.

Representatives from Really Useful (the producers) arrived at the theater today from London for the closing. I guess this is it then: the end of the Broadway chapter. My experience of playing "Jesus" in Superstar has spanned five years, but there have been four productions. There was the original 25th Anniversary Revival by Gale Edwards--that was a limited 3-week engagement, a tour (limited three-week engagement) and a completely different incarnation, the Broadway version and the soon-to-be-released film. So, I suppose my attachment to this show is over as well, and I think that four versions are more than enough!


Saturday, September 2

I arrived at work today and there were a lot of people gathered around the stage door. In fact, many people from around the country gathered outside the theater to wait on line to purchase rush tickets for the last performance. There were a lot of familiar faces that have supported this production over the past few months by attending our shows and attending our public appearances outside of the theater. Many people have camped out since Friday night in the rain to attend our final performance. They are cheery and certainly have a tale of their own to share regarding their late night encounters with NYC's drunks and prostitutes roaming around the Times Square area. Fortunately, the NYC police have been keeping an eye out for their safety by stopping by the theater on a regular basis.

During today's matinee performance we will be videotaped for the Lincoln Center archives. Needless to say, there is a buzz around the building because our performance will be available for our children and our children's children, and so on. There is an additional microphone set-up at the lip of the stage to gather ambient sound and several cameras have been strategically placed throughout the theater to capture all angles of the performance. The entire company wants to continue to do quality work especially for a show that is recorded for posterity purposes. No one wants to make a mistake! We remain calm and focused and do our jobs to the best our ability and in the end, we are pleased with the result.

At the stage door, fans gather merchandise from the show (posters, programs, souvenir brochure, etc) and are anxious for everyone to sign them. The volume of people is more than usual and they have approached not only the cast but also, the musicians, crew, etc. to sign their belongings. It's nice that everyone is noticed for contributing to the performance that is seen on stage. There are a lot of people that are unrecognized for their contributions. Backstage there is a designated area where members of the company and crew have left their own personal belongings to be signed. The area is cluttered, and everyone wanders in leisurely to write a personal line or two to an individual they shared this journey with. It's bizarre that there is a panic to have everything signed by tomorrow and to clear out our personal belongings in our dressing rooms prior to the closing. Although we had enough notification, we all waited for the last minute to put things in their final place. Many people pose for photographs in between scenes or share a laugh or two over their past experiences. Some choose to reflect personally. Tomorrow it will all be over and everyone is beginning to deal with it in their own way David St. Louis came back for one of the shows to say a final goodbye to his friends. Everyone was thrilled at this and the show was great fun!


Sunday, September 3

The final performance of JCS on Broadway brings an end to my debut on the Great White Way! Well, here we are at the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

Today I walked into the show with Amy Jacobs, the show's press representative. She's been an amazing strength in the Superstar camp and was directly responsible for many of the exciting moments in publicizing the show, like the live performance on WHTZ/Z-100 FM Radio with all of those fab z-j's at the "Z Morning Zoo," a definite highlight for me. She's coming to see the final performance along with many friends and family members of the cast.

This show today belongs to us. We worked consistently for our audience and for our professional responsibilities, but at the final performance whether it be across the Atlantic in London's West End or here on Broadway, all are seemingly the same. It is our day, our final performance, and we all want to enjoy it for ourselves and share the experience with the 1,800 people in the audience. Energy is high and people are saying their goodbyes as every habit or ritual is performed for the last time whether it is when we meet for a few seconds offstage during the performance, at the water cooler, or wherever…all will be "happy trails" conversations. To add to the preparations backstage, there is a camera crew from MTV shooting in and out of the dressing rooms with Maya [Days]. As a company, we have had many situations to deal with throughout the run. We, as a company, at least the majority of us, should be proud of our work and behavior. However, there have been moments when we worked against negative reviews, enforced personnel changes, being ignored by the industry and changes in the chemistry of the company. For better or worse, we endured and survived!

Today's show in terms of the enthusiasm was reminiscent of our early days at Westbeth during our rehearsals. It was good fun and good theater. The audience gave great support and enthusiasm as always today and throughout our run. The applause was amazing and the curtain call was full of appreciation from the audience and to our audience from us. These moments of pure chemistry aren't things that can be explained or discussed but simply something that one must experience to understand. Needless to say, we've closed with the same enthusiasm for our work as we began with.

The greatest strength of live theater is its organic nature... no two performances are the same and they are rarely, recorded or filmed on these magical occasions. Therefore, the performance lives only in the memory of those who witnessed it and experienced it. Maybe our wish lives on in the memories of those the performance influences or changed. Who knows? I hope it does. If not, we leave this amazing score and story to be created by future generations completely new views and directions. I hope they are wise enough to ignore all previous versions and create their own unique experience and performances in attempt to reach a generation. I hope, unlike ours, the theater establishment will understand the view or the reason behind their vision. Whether this production succeeded or not, this was the original idea five years ago and it is something that we can all be proud to have experienced.

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