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Pilate change: Brent Carver out, Jeremy Kushnier in for Stratford's Broadway-bound Jesus Christ Superstar

Brent Carver as Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photography by David Hou.

David Hou/Stratford Shakespeare Festival/David Hou/Stratford Shakespeare Festival

Brent Carver won't be reprising his widely acclaimed performance as Pontius Pilate when the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of Jesus Christ Superstar re-opens at the La Jolla Playhouse in California this week.

According to the Festival, Carver needed a vocal rest after playing the conflicted judge of Jesus in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical all season long. The Tony-winning Canadian actor had reportedly been replaced by an understudy at many recent performances, including the final one in Stratford, Ontario.

Jeremy Kushnier has signed on replace Carver as Pontius Pilate for the La Jolla run. He'd been in Stratford for a couple of weeks and originally tweeted to media that he had joined the cast as a new understudy for both Jesus and Judas.

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Winnipeg-born Kushnier is best known for his performances as Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys in Chicago, Las Vegas and Toronto. (Jersey Boys, like Jesus Christ Superstar, is directed by Stratford artistic director Des McAnuff.)

As for the upcoming Broadway run, set to begin at the Neil Simon Theatre in March, it's still up in the air as to who will be piloting Pontius – or any of the parts for that matter. No contacts have yet been signed.

In other Stratford news, the Festival announced three play commissions last week: new plays from playwrights Hannah Moscovitch, Jason Sherman and an English translation from Linda Gaboriau of a new work by Michel Tremblay.

Sherman's inclusion on the list is a pleasant surprise. Fed up with the lack of opportunities and financial stability for a mid-career playwright in Canada, he gave up writing for the stage and moved into television writing - and penned an article for a 2007 edition of THIS Magazine about it called Scenes from My Last Play.

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Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More

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