Lead Events Editor
Though Last Days is not a StarKid Production, the cast and crew is mostly made up of actors who are known for those parody musicals. This is a side of these people you have never seen before.
Why the change up? Julia Albain had directed a production of Last Days back at University of Michigan in 2009. It marked one of the first times this team worked together and the last time they worked on anything before A Very Potter Musical, which became a viral sensation.
The Judas Redux (as this production has come to be called) team launched a Kickstarter to fund this project back in March and began their three week run on August 23rd. The show is dark, dramatic, serious, poignant, and sometimes funny. The performers are incredible. If you are a fan of any of their previous work, I highly recommend getting yourself to Stage 773 in Chicago and seeing this show before it closes this coming Sunday.
Many of the actors in Last Days have multiple roles, and it serves as yet another testament to their diversity and talent. For example, Lauren Lopez plays Saint Monica, a street talking, sassy lady who keeps the story moving along. Then she comes back, practically unrecognizable as Mother Theresa.
Daniel Strauss plays prosecutor, Yusef El-Fayoumy, who is basically a kiss-ass. He’s referred to by another character as a flatterer. He seems very eager to please, flirts with opposing council, and emphatically drives his point home, even though sometimes he is making no sense. Strauss is amazing in this role, he plays it perfectly, adlibbing some parts here and there for comedic value, the laughs don’t stop when he is on a role.
Dylan Saunders as the short-tempered judge is outstanding, but perhaps even better is when he takes the stage as Caiaphas the Elder and struggles with his demons as he is berated for the death of Christ. After shedding a tear he tells us that he has made his peace with his past and the only forgiveness he is interested in is God’s. It is a truly moving performance, as if Saunders hasn’t given us enough to love with that singing voice.
Easily the standout of the show is Joey Richter as Satan. I hate to be cliché, but I would be doing Richter and his fans a disservice if I did not comment on his performance.
Joey shines in this role. He is not the funny sidekick, or the goofy policeman, or the hero; he is the devil. Doesn’t get much more antagonistic than Satan. Aside from physical appearance, there is nothing familiar or reminiscent of the actor in this character. He saunters into the room, demanding full attention and delivers an extraordinary performance. His calm, casual demeanor is menacing. When he reemerges in Act Two, furious and screaming, it might literally leave you with your mouth hanging open.
As if playing the villain wasn’t enough, Richter also delivers a monologue as the remorseful Saint Thomas. He will break your heart as he confesses that Jesus gave him the benefit of the doubt but didn’t have the same consideration for Judas.
Other notable performances include Nico Ager as Sigmund Freud, Reed Campbell as Judas, and Joseph Walker as Pontius Pilate. Britney Coleman’s Gloria plays violin to accompany some scenes. Ali Gordan pulls off playing an eight-year-old boy surprisingly well.
Also, Brian Rosenthal, who spends the majority of his time standing in a corner of the stage is remarkable. His reactions to what is happening in the courtroom are great! Especially his trembling and running away in fear of Satan is hilarious. He also pulls double duty as Simon the Zealot, which will probably change the way that you look at Brian Rosenthal.
Personally, I had been waiting to see this group do this play since I heard about the University version (over three years ago). It exceeded every single hope that I had and was everything I wanted it to be and more. After the show Joseph Walker and I discussed the fact that it is so different from what their (Starkid) audience is used to.
He told me that he finds it interesting that when they first looked at the Potter Musical. They thought the parody musical would be the novelty and were excited to take a break from straight theater. Four years later, a straight play is the novelty in the StarKid Fandom. The tables have turned.
If you can make it to see Last Days of Judas Iscariot before September 9th, all of the information is available here.