“Jesus Christ Superstar” features 11th hour substitution

Grace DeKoker, Freelance writer

An emphatic standing ovation rang out at the Reber Center on Feb. 17, as every audience member was on their feet for the actress portraying Mary Magdalene at LT’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.Natalie Nicoletti ‘17 had fallen ill the day before, and Jessica Jareczek had filled in as the leading lady at the last minute.

Jareczek was told the Tuesday before that since so many cast members were catching the virulent flu, she may need to sub in as another role. When Nicoletti performed opening night however, Jareczek assumed all would be well.

Directly after school the following day, she received a call from theatre teacher and director Eugene O’Reilly, telling her she would be going on not as an apostle, as she had been cast, but as Mary Magdalene.

“I wanted a backup, and when I looked at all the actors, [Jarezek] was the obvious choice,” O’Reilly said. “When onstage with other actors, you observe them, pick up on little things. I know she has a great work ethic and that she would do well.”

The role was initially written as the only female lead as the show, and she sings one of the most popular songs, “I don’t know how to love him.” Jareczek said that as soon she performed the ballad, she knew she would be able to finish the show.

“I felt really trusted, like I had the responsibility,” Jareczek said. “It wasn’t just for me, it was for everyone who worked so hard.”

It had taken nearly two months for the cast to perfect the show, and now Jareczek needed to perform a role she had not rehearsed, with only three hour’s notice, she said.

“I knew [Nicoletti] was so great, so I just had to mirror her,” she said.

Jareczek, no stranger to LT theatre, has been in several other productions; in “13!” She was Lucy, Snow White in “Brother’s Grimm Spectaculathon,” as well as an ensemble member of “Legally Blonde.” She’s a Madrigals member as well, and was only a natural choice to step in, said Alyssa Frey ‘19, who was starring in the role of Jesus.

“[Frey] was so great, she helped me so much, we worked just the two of us for a while- I don’t think I could have done it without her,” Jareczek said.

Frey said they ran through all of Mary’s scenes, and wanted to ensure Jareczek felt comfortable stepping into such a large role.

“[O’Reilly] had such faith in her, and she was phenomenal,” Frey said. “She already had such a good taste of what Mary was supposed to do, and she just pulled out this new side of her.”

Jareczek assumed the role on Saturday as well, to much success and praise, according to O’Reilly.

“I’ve only had to do this once before, switch a role like that, but it worked well,” he said.

Nicoletti was able to return to finish off the performances at the matinee on February 19th.

“No one wanted [Nicoletti] to be out sick, but it was up to me to make the best out of a rough situation,” Jareczek said.

Jareczek plans to continue acting and singing on the LT stage, and may be a part of MusicMakers Theatre summer shows for the second year in a row.

“It was definitely one of my best moments in theatre- I can’t wait for two more years of performing at LT,” Jareczek said.