Judas Iscariot can be a polarizing figure within Jesus Christ Superstar. The musical doesn’t seek to villainize him but rather portray him as man conflicted by his personal demons and the society in which he lives. Roderick Cotton, who will be playing the iconic role in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s upcoming production, sat down and answered a few questions about the production.
What shows have you performed in at the Omaha Community Playhouse? Any favorite roles?
I've had the pleasure of performing in five Omaha Community Playhouse productions before Jesus Christ Superstar. My first production was Sugar Babies when I was a senior in high school. After that, I played Mitch Mahoney in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a personal favorite role of mine. Following that, I performed in Chicago, The All Night Strut! and Altar Boyz.
Where do you work when you're not performing and/or in rehearsals at the Playhouse?
Well, for several years I worked for a company called American Entertainment Productions where I performed at amusement parks singing and dancing in their shows. Nowadays my daytime job is working at Immanuel Village, a nursing home here in Omaha.
What's your relationship with Jesus Christ Superstar? Have you performed in this show before?
This will be my first time performing in the show. I first came across it when I got involved in musical theatre in high school. My friends would always play the musical in the car and we would sing along with the CD. They would always tell me I would make a great Judas one day, and now I’m thrilled to get to actually take on the challenge.
What’s your take on the modern retelling of this production?
I think the modern take [Director] Kimberly [Faith Hickman] is using on the show is really cool, and it will make it that much more relatable to audiences today. The story itself is timeless and very important and would be effective in any time period. In my opinion, what's most important is the connection to the words and the way the story is told by the actors. I think we have found a great way to do just that.
How have rehearsals been going?
Rehearsals have been great! It's so fun coming in every day and finding new things to connect to with this story despite it's been around forever. The only challenge is keeping yourself physically and vocally healthy with this very demanding piece of theatre. It's that time of year where we all have to fight catching a cold. I got a little under the weather and lost my voice the week our director showed up. Needless to say, belting out the role of Judas wasn't so easy that week.
Do you do anything interesting/unusual outside of theatre?
Wow! This is a question I’ll have to think about so I won't incriminate myself! (laughs) I have a whole entirely different persona that I perform on many nightclub stages, singing and dancing. I think I'll leave it at that and let people’s imaginations wander…
You can see Roderick Cotton in his role as Judas Iscariot in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s Jesus Christ Superstar, running March 6–April 4, 2015 (no performance on Easter, April 5); Wednesday–Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for students. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call (402) 553-0800 or .