When he was a little kid, Sean Felder's mother constantly listened to a tape from "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the family car.

Chase McCants recalled last week that when he was growing up, his mother gave him cassettes from two musicals, "Phantom of the Opera" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," a collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

"That's why I love singing," McCants said.

Felder and McCants, along with many other members of the cast for the Imagine Productions performances of "Jesus Christ Superstar" probably weren't born when it first hit the boards on Broadway in 1971. Nevertheless, they are thrilled to find themselves in the musical that thrilled their parents.

"This is probably my favorite musical," said Ben Canton, who plays the title role. "I just love the show."

The rock opera, which looks at the last days of Jesus Christ through the perspective of Judas Iscariot, the role McCants is playing, will be presented at 8 p.m. March 2, 3 and 4 and at 3 p.m. March 5 at the Northland Performing Arts Center, 4411 Tamarack Blvd.

Tickets cost $23 for adults and may be reserved online at tiktz.com.

The size of the cast -- 37 members -- set a record for the theatrical troupe, according to Douglas C. Shaffer, who is directing "Superstar."

Unlike the original Broadway and London shows or the 1973 film based on them, the local production is set in the present day.

"It's more a commentary on kind of the way the world is now," Shaffer said.

The question the play asks in this context is, "Would the same thing happen to Jesus in modern times?" he said. "And obviously, the answer is yes."

Donnie Lockwood, stage manager, said during a rehearsal session last week that cast members are getting their lines and lyrics down.

"They're shaping up very well," he said.

"Good work happening here, guys," Shaffer told cast members after a run-through of a scene. "Now I want to see it with confidence."

It's been going really well, he said, during a break for the actors.

"We've got a strong group of people," he said. "There's not a weak link in the bunch."

"Doug's put together a great cast," said Felder, who plays the Apostle Peter.

Canton said he normally is not in front of an audience but usually serves as a musician for performances.

Getting to play Jesus is a big step, he said.

"I'm thrilled, honored, crazy excited," he said.

McCants said he likewise is thrilled, honored and crazy excited to have the meaty role of Judas.

"He has this great and deep love for Jesus, but at the same time, he's afraid of Jesus walking to his death and he didn't want to take that path," McCants said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1