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Theater life comes “very full circle” for Atlanta star of “Jesus Christ Famous person”

When Omar Lopez-Cepero takes the stage because the villain subsequent week in Jesus Christ Famous person on the Fox Theatre, he will probably be stepping onto the historic Atlanta showplace’s stage for the primary time. And it’s been a very long time coming.

The actor says he has attended many exhibits on the Fox, having grown up round Atlanta and graduated from Duluth Excessive College. Now he returns house inside his first few months on this North American tour to carry out one among musical theater’s most spectacular roles, Judas Iscariot. The present runs April 19-24.

Lopez-Cepero took a break from his vocal relaxation routine to speak with ArtsATL in regards to the roots and trajectory of his profession.

ArtsATL: That is the fiftieth anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Famous person. However this Olivier Award-winning revival, which launched in London in 2016, is considerably totally different from earlier productions, proper?

Lopez-Cepero: I believe that [this version] has one thing for everybody. Theatrical audiences, they’re gonna actually love this present. It’s an iconic piece, and clearly you'll be able to’t go mistaken with Andrew Lloyd Webber. However for folk which can be new to theater, it’s a terrific segue as a result of it actually has a rock live performance factor and we now have the band on stage. And it actually kicks!

Atlanta native Omar Lopez-Cepero says he is aware of “it’s gonna be a bizarre ‘pinch me’ factor” when he performs on the Fox. “I’ll in all probability tear up through the soundcheck, as a result of it’ll really feel very full circle to me.”

ArtsATL: How has the tour been going for you up to now?

Lopez-Cepero: It’s an unimaginable honor to affix this tour! This present is 50 years outdated. And so to see the way it’s been interpreted for thus a few years in several methods via totally different lenses, and to be a part of that legacy now could be actually an honor for me. And my good pal truly performs Jesus! Aaron [LaVigne] and I've been mates for, like, 12 years, and he was a groomsman in my wedding ceremony. 

ArtsATL: So, how does that real-life friendship translate onto stage? 

Lopez-Cepero: Nicely, apparently, I wouldn’t say that we’re the identical because the characters, however there are specific similarities throughout the characters that I believe we are able to each latch onto. In Aaron’s case for Jesus, he’s carefree, constructive, lives life like all the pieces’s gonna work out, all the pieces’s gonna be nice. Whereas I’m all the time like, “OK, properly, what’s the plan? What’s occurring subsequent?” So from the Omar/Aaron perspective, it leans into the Judas/Jesus characters, as a result of Judas is like, “Hey man, issues are getting uncontrolled,” and Jesus is saying, “Nah, man, all the pieces is nice. Don’t fear. Take it sooner or later at a time.” 

And in addition, there’s simply pure chemistry there ’trigger we’ve identified one another for thus lengthy. So, you already know, a easy look or eye roll or one thing has extra which means to it as a result of I’ve seen it earlier than. 

And there are loads of intricacies and nuances inside this story. I believe what was good from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice was to inform the story from the antagonist’s perspective, however they let him be the protagonist of the story. In order that has been actually rewarding and actually enjoyable. I’m grateful that I’ve developed some good method via learning and thru my work all through the years to have the ability to navigate that.

ArtsATL: Speaking of your coaching, you began out right here in Atlanta, proper?

Lopez-Cepero: Yeah, it’s a reasonably cool story, truly. I used to be an athlete rising up. I performed soccer — I performed loads of totally different sports activities — and my mother and father cherished music and the humanities, however they weren’t absolutely versed in it. I used to be drawn to music. After which in center college – I’ll always remember – the orchestra trainer had introduced in an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra member who performed the cello and performed “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” And I actually was observing this cello, pondering, “Oh my God, that’s superb!” So I performed the cello for 2 years, sixth and seventh grade.

ArtsATL: How did you wind up in theater?

Lopez-Cepero: I had fallen in love with music, and I acknowledged that I may sing. So I joined the refrain, and it wasn’t till my freshman 12 months at Duluth Excessive College the place I believe the universe stepped in. I auditioned for a category that was referred to as Music Theatre Workshop, however it turned out that that class was for upperclassmen. And so the trainer thought that I used to be a switch pupil once I auditioned. Nicely, I’m unsure how she thought that as a result of I used to be 4-feet-11-inches as a freshman and I regarded like I used to be 11 years outdated [laughs]! However the fortunate strike was that they have been doing a manufacturing of Mame, which has a task referred to as Little Patrick who’s 11 years outdated. And guess who performed Little Patrick and made his musical debut? 

Lopez-Cepeno together with his Duluth Excessive College theater trainer Rebecca Houser, who he calls “a serious inspiration.”

ArtsATL: Did you additionally see theater round Atlanta?

Lopez-Cepero: I positively went to go see exhibits on the Fox, which I believe is actually cool for me to get to play that stage. It’s so loopy! 

I’ll always remember sitting within the viewers and seeing the twinkling stars. It’s like, what are we, in Arabian Nights? That is loopy! So I do know it’s gonna be a bizarre “pinch me” factor [when I perform there]. I’ll in all probability tear up through the soundcheck, as a result of it’ll really feel very full circle to me. You understand, I’ve been in a position to play so many huge venues and theaters across the nation, however I’ve by no means gotten to play my main house theater. I’ve been at this for a very good little minute and to have this chance at this level in my profession to return again in a task like this, it’s particular.

ArtsATL: The place else did you attend theater rising up?

Lopez-Cepero:  I additionally noticed exhibits on the Aurora Theatre and Atlanta Lyric Theatre, the Georgia Ensemble Theatre. I used to be grateful that my mother and father launched loads of that to me as a viewer.

And I've to offer a shout-out to my highschool academics, Rebecca Houser, who was my theater trainer and goes to return see Jesus Christ Famous person, and, sadly, my late, departed refrain trainer Lee Rodriguez Ayres. They each have been so instrumental find this as my vocation as a result of had it not been for them, I in all probability would’ve both been a physician or lawyer or who is aware of what. [In his senior year, his teachers encouraged him to pursue a music scholarship, and he ended up scoring a full one to study voice at the University of Miami.] I actually owe them a lot for the experiences that I’ve had in my life and profession.

ArtsATL: How good! After this tour, in some unspecified time in the future you will have the musical model of The Pocket book arising, the place you’ll be taking part in Lon.

Lopez-Cepero: Sure, I’m actually enthusiastic about that! We have been supposed to do this, like a 12 months and a half in the past when the pandemic hit. So we’ve rescheduled the manufacturing like twice, thrice. So it’s hopefully nonetheless occurring, knock on wooden, within the fall. And it’s premiering on the Chicago Shakespeare Theater with a hopeful Broadway flip later in 2023. 

It’s a fantastic, stunning present. I imply, clearly the e book is superb and the film, you already know, is iconic. But it surely’s one thing that actually, as a result of it’s such an emotionally heartfelt present, lends itself to be musicalized. Ingrid Michaelson wrote the music and lyrics, and if you already know her music, she’s a singer-songwriter who actually leads with lyric, and her melodies are highly effective. 

ArtsATL: As an actor, has it been exhausting to navigate via the pandemic?

Lopez-Cepero: It actually made me take into consideration loads of issues as a result of because the profession sort of dissolved into nothing, and loads of issues had been occurring for each my spouse [stage and screen actress Arianna Rosario] and me pre-pandemic, we stated, “What’s it gonna appear like when issues do come again, if they arrive again, and is that this the life that we nonetheless wanna lead?” And once we actually sat down, we stated, “That is the one factor that we are able to see ourselves doing.” I imply, sure, we are able to perhaps direct or produce and do issues down the road, however I’ll perpetually be an artist. And I believe that artwork discovered me as a result of it was my calling, and I’m grateful for it. 

ArtsATL: Nicely, thanks a lot for taking trip of your day and out of your vocal relaxation to speak to ArtsATL.

Lopez-Cepero: That is good. It’s a part of my warmup [laughs]. 


Sally Henry Fuller is a theater nerd and performing arts journalist with a ardour for telling folks’s tales. When she’s not interviewing artists, yow will discover her in an area espresso store or watching a musical together with her bearded husband.


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