Benefit performance of Jesus Christ Superstar a “labor of love” for the Marin theater community and San Rafael churches

Posted on March 20, 2018

Kim Bromley has always loved the theater. “I was that kid,” the San Rafael resident laughs, as she describes beginning her acting career at age eight, getting a theater degree in college, and continuing on to film school for her master’s degree. After working at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) for many years, Kim says she went back to the theater “for fun.” She’s been involved in local theater, as a performer, director and writer, for about 16 years.

More recently, Kim found a different community when she started volunteering with the Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy. The Street Chaplaincy is a non-profit agency that “brings compassionate spiritual support to the unsheltered and precariously housed people of Marin County.” One of their many programs is a wellness gathering that meets every Tuesday evening for meditation and prayer, followed by a meal that the group members prepare.

 “As a member of the Church of the Nativity, I started going to the Tuesday night dinners,” Kim explains. “Nativity volunteers on the first Tuesday of every month, but I go whenever I can. You just need to show up, be present, and meet everyone where they are. And the food is amazing.”

In March, Kim combined her passion for theater and for the street chaplaincy community by bringing concert performances of Jesus Christ Superstar to San Rafael. The shows, at First Presbyterian Church and the Church of the Nativity, were a benefit for the Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy. Admission to the concert was free, but donations were accepted. For four performances, the show raised about $8,400.

“I’ve had Jesus Christ Superstar on my radar for a long time,” Kim says. “I love the show, but it’s really hard to produce. Then I read that Andrew Lloyd Webber actually saw it as concert piece, and a concert version is much easier to produce.” That’s how the idea to create this benefit began. And it quickly gathered steam.

Kim first pitched the concept to the two churches about a year ago. As a board member for the Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy, Nativity rector, the Reverend Kirsten Snow Spalding, came on board immediately. Then Kim set out to pitch the idea to the theater community.

“I got tired of making the same speech over and over, so I put it in writing,” she says. “My proposal explained the concept and promised not to take up too much of their time.” To her pleasant surprise, the singers and musicians she approached eagerly agreed to donate their time and talent. “Everyone was thrilled. They kept saying they had always wanted to do Jesus Christ Superstar, and to do it for a good cause was something everyone could get behind.”

Knowing the performing community as well as she does, Kim had certain singers in mind for certain roles; others came to the cast through Kim’s connections. “Our music director, Judy Wiesen, found someone to play Caiaphas who has a really wonderful deep voice.” In fact, Kim says, “people were asking us if we had a part for them.”

It was not just singers and musicians who were willing to donate their time. Designer Mark Shepard contributed the graphics for the publicity materials, including posters, flyers and web banners. “Really, this has been a labor of love for everyone.”

Most theater performances hit snags, big and small, at some point, but Kim says this production of Jesus Christ Superstar has been pretty easy. “We did have a change in the Street Chaplaincy leadership right in the middle of planning,” she admits. “But the Reverend Bentley Stewart, who is the interim director, has been a staunch supporter of our efforts.”

Another issue was making sure the show was inclusive of all ideologies, as the Street Chaplaincy itself is. Kim believes that Jesus Christ Superstar is really Judas’s story. “This is someone who makes a monumental life decision and immediately regrets it, something we have all done,” she explains. “Maybe our decisions didn’t have such huge historical ramifications, but we can all relate to what he did.”

As much time, effort and love as she put into producing these performances, Kim says she gets just as much back from her volunteer time with the Street Chaplaincy. “I met a woman at one dinner whose background is similar to mine,” she recalls. “We made a connection because it turned out that we knew some of the same people. So she always wanted me to sit with her. She eventually qualified for Section 8 housing and got a place of her own.”

Then last fall, Kim's friend was stricken with cancer and hospitalized for four months. Sadly, she passed away just last week. "I miss her. I used to bring her take out because she was so bored with hospital food. She was a really good friend."

Similar connections are what Kim hopes are the outcome of this massive volunteer effort. “It’s not about the music or the performers. It’s about making people aware of the street community. If we can find ways to get to know each other and ways to come together, it helps everybody.”

For more photos of the performance at Nativity, San Rafael click here.