Bringing grit to character

By Tara Whitsed

After debuting on the Shepparton Theatre Arts Group stage last year, Drew Walker returns as one of the leads in Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Echuca actor joined the STAG cohort as Elphaba in the musical Wicked and was looking looked forward to tackling the role of Mary Magdelene.

‘‘She’s actually my first type of womanly role,’’ Ms Walker said.

‘‘Mary portrays Jesus’ lover, but she’s very nurturing like a mother and a sister.

‘‘She was a prostitute and has been healed by Jesus and is infatuated with him.’’

Ms Walker will join STAG actor Brandon Armstrong, who plays Jesus, who she worked alongside in Wicked.

‘‘He was the main munchkin in Wicked,’’ she said, adding it was great to work with Mr Armstrong again.

The entire production uses song to convey the script with no dialogue whatsoever, but Ms Walker is no stranger to belting out a tune.

She was a contestant on Australian television series X-Factor, where she made it to the top 10 female contestants after being involved with musicals since she was eight.

Ms Walker became involved in STAG productions after having done a few shows with Echuca-Moama Theatre Company.

‘‘Echuca and STAG are like brother and sister, so some actors mix between the two,’’ she said.

Ms Walker will present a more gritty version of Mary Magdelene through costume, hair and make-up.

‘‘The style is going to be very rad; I’m going to have dreads in my hair,’’ she said.

The cast has started blocking scenes and working hard on character development, which Ms Walker said was going well, despite needing a few tips on the story of Judas and his relationship with Jesus — the focus of Jesus Christ Superstar.

‘‘I don’t know much about Jesus at all,’’ she said.

‘‘I did my audition and got asked to have a call back, so I stayed in Shepparton with my friend whose Mum is a religious teacher and she helped me out.’’

This will be the third time STAG has staged Jesus Christ Superstar, which director Tricia Deakin said would have a new flavour this time.

Audience members are advised Jesus Christ Superstar contains adult themes and simulated violence.

STAG’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar is on May 2 to 5. Tickets are on sale on STAG’s website.