PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice classic 'Jesus Christ Superstar' is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a national tour that stops in Philadelphia this week.
Two of the stars are both recent graduates of Philadelphia universities, and both making their professional debuts at the Kimmel Cultural Campus.
Jack Hopewell had just graduated from the University of the Arts at this very time last year when he got the call to play the title role in the touring production of 'Jesus Christ Superstar.'
"My last audition for the show was my week of graduation," Hopewell says. "It's a little crazy to come straight out of college into something of this magnitude, but I'm infinitely grateful for it every day."
Hopewell says his portrayal of Jesus is "human."
"He's just as much a human as he is the Son of God," Hopewell says. "I do my best to show the humanity of Jesus, showcasing his fears, his flaws. I hope people are able to relate to it in that sort of way."
Playing Annas, a high priest, is Kodiak Thompson, who graduated from Temple University just two years ago.
"One thing that's interesting about playing a 'bad guy' in this show is that I thought that when I took this role the stage door was going to be super awkward," Thompson says. "Because everyone's going to be waiting for Jesus, and no one will want to meet the person responsible for his crucifixion. But I come out there and people are like, 'You were awesome.' That's so unusual!"
The musical is based on Jesus' last day, the Passion of Christ. This portrayal, they say, is more like a rock concert.
"Some people come to our show to worship, as though it's a sermon for 90 minutes," Thompson says. "We see them having a deep spiritual experience throughout the show, and that's beautiful. We celebrate that. And then some people are there with more eyeliner than we have on, and they're there to rock out. They're here for the music!"
Hopewell says his freshman orientation was at the Miller Theater, and returning back to that stage is a real full-circle moment.
"It's going to be very emotional, I think for me, but exciting," Hopewell says.
The thought of their teachers sitting in the audience is also overwhelming.
"For them to be able to see me and to see everything that they imparted on me, used on stage, is going to be so meaningful to me," Thompson says.
Hopewell and Thompson say they're both ready to play tour guides for the cast and crew, and take them to their favorite spots around Philadelphia.
'Jesus Christ Superstar' opens Tuesday, 5/2, at the Miller Theater and runs through Sunday, 5/7.