He’s Just a Man: Interview with Kodiak Thompson in Jesus Christ Superstar

The 50th Anniversary Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar arrives in Philadelphia this May. Kodiak Thompson is thrilled to be part of the production in the role of Annas. Thompson is a DC native and graduate of Temple University. Thompson talked about his role, the tour, and why the show “strikes a nerve with audiences.

[The Miller Theater, on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, 250 S Broad St] May 2-7, 2023; kimmelculturalcampus.org

Isaac Ryckeghem and Kodiak Thompson in the North American Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Debra Danese: Congratulations on your first national tour. What were you doing when you got the news that you were cast as Annas?

Kodiak Thompson: I was on the floor in my partner’s home in Northport, Long Island, warming up my splits for an evening performance of Kinky Boots at the Engeman Theatre. I was thrilled, and quite surprised, to hear I was being offered a role in JCS — especially a principal role. I hadn’t heard from casting in many weeks and assumed my chances were slim to none. I had been following the tour’s social media for a year and thought it looked incredible, so I was excited to get in on the action! The offer felt like a blessing. It has been a wonderful step forward.

DD: Who was the first person you shared the news with?

KT: I called my agents first to verify that the email wasn’t sent by accident, in case they had another Kodiak Thompson in the running. Once I confirmed that it was, in fact, a real offer intended for me, I called my parents and told them to sell the tickets they had already bought for the other show I was planning on doing this year. One does not simply deny Jesus Christ Superstar, the 50th Anniversary Tour, nor the unique opportunity to work with some of the best of Broadway and the West End — Timothy Sheader (Director), Brian Harlan Brooks (Associate Director), Drew McOnie (Choreographer) and David Holcenberg (Music Supervisor.)

Kodiak Thompson

DD: What five words would you use to describe Jesus Christ Superstar?

KT: Electric, primal, soulful, thrilling, cathartic.

DD: What’s your most memorable moment from the tour so far?

KT: I’ve loved speaking with high school theatre students at the stage door. I was that kid not too long ago. I’d see every touring production that came through my hometown of Hershey, PA, and I’d wait by the door with stars in my eyes to ask the performers about college auditions, their training, tour tips, and basically how to become them. Now, I get to be that resource for others, and it fills me with joy to hear some of them say I inspire them. I always tell them to just keep going — to focus on their love of performing rather than competing or comparing themselves to others. This industry is a business, but this art form is all about love and community. Therefore, building community is the most memorable part of tour!

DD: Favorite line from the show?

KT: In Judas’s opening song, “Heaven On Their Minds,” he sings to Jesus, “And all the good you’ve done Will soon get swept away. You’ve begun to matter more Than the things you say.” This lyric summarizes his entire message, from Judas’s point of view, the followers of Jesus are blind. They no longer care about what Jesus says or does because what they follow is merely their idea of him. This idolatry and obsession with Jesus is what leads to his death. The herd mentality cannot be reasoned with and is ultimately revealed as a means for self-preservation when things go south with the Romans. The reasons why, and the ways in which humans act on their beliefs, is powerful and I think that’s one of the main reasons this show strikes a nerve with all who see it.

DD: Your website says that you can be found delivering “homemade bread to friends” in your free time. What’s your specialty?

KT: Fresh rosemary and olive oil baguettes – crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. They do not last long, and I’m cool with that.

Jesus Christ Superstar will be at the Miller Theater, on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, May 2-7, 2023. 250 S Broad St Philadelphia, PA 19102. kimmelculturalcampus.org/events-and-tickets/202223/broadway/jesus-christ-superstar/

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