Christian Ridley was getting his ankles taped – a typical part of his pre-practice routine – and his phone rang.
‘Hello Jesus’ were the first words the wide receiver with the St. F.X. X-Men football team heard from the caller.
It was director Jenn Laudadio on the line, informing him that would be playing the part of Jesus in the Music of the Night production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
“It was cool how it all played out,” he said, with a laugh.
Ridley said he was “exposed to [theatre] from a young age.”
“My father is a high school theatre director in Dubai,” he added.
Ridley continued his connection to the arts as he grew up, including performances in high school and during his undergraduate studies at Western University.
“A bit of variety show stuff,” he noted, of the latter experience.
Last year, Ridley and three others, including X-Men teammate Jeremy Pike, staged a piece for the Theatre Antigonish One-Act Play festival.
“Jenn and Brent [Bannerman, the show’s musical director] were actually there and they came up to us after and talked about this show,” he said.
Initially, Music of the Night performances were supposed to take place last fall, in the middle of the varsity football season, so Ridley decided he would not audition.
“Jenn hunted me down through my coach Gary Waterman and asked if I would be still interested in doing the show,” Ridley said, after the performances were rescheduled for March.
With the better timing, he decided to audition.
“And, here we are,” Ridley said, prior to a recent rehearsal.
He noted “not too much,” when asked what he knew about the musical.
“I heard some of the music, but I had never actually seen it, until I got through the audition and such,” Ridley said, adding he watched the 1973 movie, along with some online videos from other productions.
“Once I started to get familiar with it, it has just been super exciting; the music is amazing.”
Ridley said he has enjoyed every minute of his Music of the Night experience.
“It has been great get to know everyone – we have a great group,” he added.
As for his role, Ridley said he “wasn’t really shooting for anything.”
“Last year, I had really long curly locks and, I think, Jenn maybe saw that and that gave her an idea,” he added, with a laugh.
Being the king
Robyn Gale will be amongst those sharing the stage with Ridley. In her first Music of the Night production, the second-year St. F.X. student plays Mary Magdelene.
“I just knew a few people in the show and they had been talking to me about auditioning,” she said, noting that wasn’t in her plans.
“On the day of auditions, I decided ‘hey, why not?’ and then I did (laughing).”
Gale said her role has been “challenging.”
“But it is really fun and it is going to be great. I am really excited. I love the role,” she added.
For Catherine MacIntyre, it will be her second Music of the Night experience. The Antigonish native was a cast member in the production of Rent.
“It is really nice to be back to help out,” MacIntyre said.
When asked why she wanted to participate, she called it “two-fold.”
“I am in the first year of my education degree [at St. F.X.] and they encourage you to get involved in the school community,” MacIntyre said.
“So, where this is a fundraiser for the school [band] … it was something that popped up, and I am teaching here [at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional], so it gave me the chance to get involved in the theatre aspect that I grew up loving anyway.”
MacIntyre plays King Herod.
“It was fun when Jenn proposed the idea of a gender ambiguous King Herod. I thought that would be a wonderful role to take on and to do justice to, where we are taking it from a social justice perspective,” she said.
“It is really important to have that kind of character and have it as part of the story, which is really nice. It is really exciting,” she added.
Both Gale and MacIntyre described their Music of the Night experience as “a lot of fun.”
“I love it – I don’t want it to end,” Gale said.
MacIntyre added the production is “a really fun take on the classic musical.”
“I had seen it and I was familiar with it, but I had never done it,” Gale said, when the duo was asked about their familiarity with the production.”
“I knew nothing – I didn’t even know the music, so it has been fun to learn,” MacIntyre added.
Are they nervous about taking the stage?
“I am thrilled – I thrive on the high-pressure situation,” MacIntyre said.
“Me too,” Gale added, as both laughed.
Tom Curry, another cast member, is no stranger to the stage – the Antigonish native is an accomplished musician and singer.
“It has been awesome. It has been a lot of fun,” Curry, who plays Judas, said.
“It is not what I am really used to; I am used to performing on stage in a band or with a guitar on my lap, but this is a whole different thing.
“It has been a learning curve, but, again, it has been a lot of fun,” he added.
It is his first Music of the Night experience.
“This is the first time that I have done a production, like this, since Grade 7,” Curry said, with a laugh.
Describing it as “a great opportunity,” he added Bannerman and Laudadio encouraged him to become part of the show.
“They thought it was right up my alley,” Curry said.
As for his decision to audition, he added “it was time that I tried something new.”