Bethany College is proud to announce accomplished musician Brandon Draper will be the special guest star in the Palm Sunday weekend performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” as part of the 2015 Messiah Festival of the Arts. Draper is a 2001 Bethany College graduate. He will be reprising his role of Jesus in the production. He originally played the same role when he was a student at Bethany in 2001.  
“I am very excited and humbled to be involved with the production again,” Draper said. “It's wild how excited I am to be back in Presser Hall as well. It is one of the finest music halls in all of the midwestern states.”
“Jesus Christ Superstar” will kick off the 2015 Messiah Festival of the Arts with performances at 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday in Presser Hall Auditorium on the Bethany College campus. Tickets for all Messiah Festival events are on sale now.
“We began talking back in July 2014 about the possibility of me being a part of the production, and then in October I had some long talks with the manager of the band I was touring with and we all worked it out that I would be available for an appropriate amount of rehearsals and the week of the show,” Draper explained. “It took some patience and flexibility and I am very gracious that the director professor LeGault made it happen.”
Reprising the role of Jesus has provided Draper with a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the character.
“It's a role that I already knew, so this time I was able to really get deeper into the heart of Jesus by studying scripture, historical accounts and the vast amount of films. I played Jesus in 2001 while still a student at BC, and now 14 years later I am actually closer to Jesus age at the time of the story, and I have many years of recording, touring and performing under my belt that help,” Draper said. “The biggest impact is that Jesus founded his entire message on Love and being a father and husband. My heart has grown so much to where my capacity and understanding of love and compassion is far greater than 14 years ago.”
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is the first musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to be produced for the professional stage, and first came to major theatres when it debuted on Broadway in October 1971 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York. It became a  global phenomenon that has continued to entertain audiences for more than 40 years. It is a portrayal of a commonly known series of events told through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.
“It's a rock opera and it's being done very well. The story of Jesus is the most famous and important story of all time and being told through rock is a wonderful experience,” Draper said.
 To date, “Jesus Christ Superstar” has grossed over $205 million and has been professionally produced in 42 countries around the world.
“It is my favorite musical hands down,” Draper said. “I told my wife years ago that I would not do theatre again, focusing all my energy on music performance and production, unless the right opportunity to play Jesus came along. I never would have imagined it to be back at BC with the same brilliant director.”
Draper has become a success on and off the stage. Since moving to Kansas City, Kansas in 2006, Draper has become a sought-after musician. In addition to freelancing and teaching, he currently plays percussion and drums with the groups Particle and Alaturka. He also plays guitar with his father in The Draper Family Band and runs a children's interactive music show called Drum Safari with his wife of 14 years, Teryn.
Draper has performed at festivals, universities, concert halls and conventions. His resume includes performances with the New Mexico and Santa Fe Symphony Orchestras as well as the Kansas City Symphony. Draper has performed with Ottmar Liebert, DJ Logic, Donna Summer, Mose Allison, Steve Coleman, Dick Oatts, Mike Moreno, Bobby Watson and Kevin Hays. Most recently he has been touring with Particle and working on a new album due out this fall. In past years he performed in the critically acclaimed world premiere of the new hiphop musical “Venice” in Los Angeles in Fall 2010, and premiered his original work “Bass Darabukas” with Quixotic and the Kansas City Symphony in Spring of 2011.
Draper is an educator as well and has taught at the University of New Mexico, University of Missouri Kansas City, East Mountain High School, and high schools throughout the Midwest and Southwest. He has led master-classes at the Percussive Arts Society Day of Percussion in Kansas, Nebraska and New Mexico, and performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention.
Currently Draper is on the music faculty at the University of Kansas, percussion director at Shawnee Mission West High School, and music director at Kansas City Academy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance from Bethany College and a masters of music degree with distinction from the University of New Mexico.
With such a busy lifestyle, Draper has had to do some creative scheduling to accommodate the production.
“I wouldn't be able to do this production without the help and support of my wife Teryn, my kids and parents for helping coordinate schedules and travel with my kids,” Draper said, “or without the University of Kansas for allowing me to reschedule a few classes in order to meet the requirements of the week of show. And I’d like to thank my production company Looking Up Productions Inc. for handling all the business.”
Other featured performers include Tyler Johnson as Judas Iscariot and Chelsey L. Moore as Mary Magdalene.
Tyler Johnson, a 2005 Bethany College graduate, began his performing career age 9, when he participated in Broadway RFD’s Children’s production of Robin Hood. He has remained  involved with Broadway RFD over the years. Johnson currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Broadway RFD, assistant directs Lindsborg’s Annual Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration, participates in the Smoky Valley Men’s Chorus in which he has been a featured soloist, participated for 10 years in the Bethany College Oratorio Society and sings high tenor for the Salemsborg Lutheran Gospel Quartet. Johnson is also a founding member of The Next Stage Theatre Company.
Currently, Johnson works at Hospira, Inc. in McPherson. He has performed in numerous roles over the years including as Joey in “The Most Happy Fella”, Lancelot in “Camelot” and Willy Wonka in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”  
Chelsey L. Moore is a recent theater graduate of Sterling College and was in The Forum's “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” as Joanna and “A Christmas Carol” as Belle. Some favorite credits from Sterling include Jane Eyre from ”Jane Eyre”, Disciple from ”Godspell” and Amanda Wingfield from “The Glass Menagerie.”
Every year since 1882, the Bethany Oratorio Society has presented Messiah at Bethany College. The society has performed Messiah across the plains, in Carnegie Hall, and on national television. To learn more about the 2015 Messiah Festival of the Arts, please go to the website at www.messiahfestival.  com.
“The Messiah Festival is a very rare thing. Everyone in town can sing, and really sing! Even after the first rehearsal of JCS I was reminded how serious Lindsborg is about choral activities,” Draper said. “The high regard everyone has for music and the arts is personified in the 139 years of the festival. It's pretty astounding.”
Dress rehearsals for both “Messiah” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” will be performed for the public at Presser Hall Auditorium with tickets on sale for $15 per person at the door. Dress rehearsal for “Jesus Christ Superstar” will begin at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. on Friday. “Messiah” will begin at 6:30 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.
The Messiah Festival of the Arts begins Saturday  and features art, music and theater events through April 5. The festival will open Palm Sunday weekend with the performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” at 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. Bach’s “The Passion According to St. Matthew” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Good Friday, April 3. “Messiah” will be performed at 3 p.m. on Easter Sunday. All performances are in Presser Auditorium. Tickets for all performances can be purchased online at or by calling Bethany’s Messiah Coordinator Blakely Bunning at 785-227-3311, ext. 8137.