Pupils win major roles
Taupo¯-nui-a-Tia College students Samantha McCutchan and Lochie Jones wowed Taupo¯ audiences as Cherie and Drew in Taupo¯-nui-aTia’s Rock of Ages and now they will hit the stage again with Centre Stage in Jesus Christ Superstar.
The year 13 students will perform with over 30 Taupo¯ locals and a live rock band in a contemporary version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous rock opera in the Great Lake Centre this month. Set in modern-day Jerusalem the show tells the story of the last few days in the life of Jesus Christ.
Samantha, 17, trained in ballet for seven years and is also an accomplished singer, musician and song-writer. As well as taking the lead role in Rock of Ages this year, she played Sharpay in High School Musical in 2016. She wants to follow a career in the performing arts when she finishes school this year.
“My dream is to travel the world performing in musical theatre. For me it’s the perfect combination of all the things I love — dancing, singing and acting.”
Lochie, 18, is also keen to continue treading the boards after school. He performed in High School Musical in 2016 too but really stretched himself with the lead of Drew in Rock of Ages.
“That show was the first time I’d sung in front of people ever. It was a bit of struggle for me. My confidence with singing has really built up since then. My range has increased, and I think overall my singing has really improved during rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Samantha is really enjoying being part of the cast.
“At first, I thought being in a show with a group of adults might be a bit awkward. But it’s actually not that different from the high school shows. There’s probably not as much mucking around. Everyone has really gotten into from the start.”
Lochie agrees. “Everyone is really committed and not afraid to get into character and go for it. The standard of acting is really high. I don’t think that fact that we are younger has made a difference — everyone fits in really well together.”
Juggling sport, school work, rehearsals and part-time jobs has been a struggle for the pair.
“The rehearsal time is a lot longer for this show than Rock of Ages and the rehearsals go on later,” says Lochie. “It’s been hard to fit everything in. It’s going to be worth it though once we start performing for audiences.”
Taupo¯-nui-a-Tia College students Samantha McCutchan (back row fourth from right) and Lochie Jones (centre, standing) with some of the cast from Jesus Christ Superstar. Andrew Tattle, who plays Jesus, is at front centre.