“Some people see a love triangle when they look at us and the way we play the roles, but Kory and I see best friends,” said former Lane student Melissa Miller.
Miller and Kory Weimer are starring in the current Cottage Grove Theater’s production of the iconic “Jesus Christ Superstar”. This rendition is a modern, soulful musical about the Passion of Christ. The show opened Oct. 2 and will run through Oct. 25, with Jesus and Judas being played by Weimer and Miller respectively.
In this production, director Tony Rust has cast a woman, Miller, to play the role of Judas, who is traditionally played by a man. She does not believe that biblical Judas’ gender has a big impact on her portrayal of the part, or the relationship between Jesus and Judas.
“For me, Judas is trying to save Jesus from himself. Judas believes in the message and the cause, but doesn’t understand why Jesus has changed and wants things to be as they were,” said Miller.
According to Miller, a female Judas is not much different than a male Judas. She tries to approach every role the same way, regardless of gender. Miller believes that characters are all archetypes, making gender secondary.
“In the end it’s all about the audience and making them believe you,” said Miller.
Miller has been acting since 2003. She attended Lane from 2005 to 2007 and was in two Lane productions, “The Real Inspector Hound” and “Noises Off.”
After a short break from acting she returned to the stage in 2009 and has been very active in community theatre, taking on 15 different roles since then.
Miller continues to hone her craft, in addition to maintaining a marriage and having a full-time, non-acting job. Despite not finishing her degree, Miller believes that her time at Lane was very beneficial, especially the playwriting class.
Weimer, who plays Jesus, echoes the notion that attending Lane was a huge step in his acting career, especially being exposed to new people and ideas. During his time at Lane, Weimer learned technical skills and gained important insight into the acting field, and said that his instructors brought out levels of talent that he didn’t even know he had.
“Keep learning. Never think you are the master at your craft, as there is no top level. Read and watch plays. Watch movies. … Never do it for the money,” said Weimer. “Work hard, and be that person that everyone wants to work with.”
The head of Lane’s Theatre Program, Dr. Brian Haimbach, said, “the best acting course I took was a playwriting course. It makes you really investigate character goals, obstacles, and actions, which are the fundamental building blocks of playing and writing characters.”
Both actors have acting experience at the Cottage Grove Theater, and with Tony Rust specifically.
“They are my extended family,” said Rust. “[I] love working with them and both of them have been in numerous shows with me.”
Rust went on to say that not many Lane students perform in Cottage Grove, but he always enjoys it when they do. Rust has also worked with Lane faculty in the past, and hopes to work with them more in the future.