ICONIC rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar is returning to the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth next week and is set to see Charles Michael Duke – an actor from Christchurch who had a double lung transplant in May 2018 – take on the lead role of Judas.

Charles Michael Duke, 24 was on stage at the Regent Centre appearing in the annual Christmas Spectacular written by his mum when his lungs collapsed in 2015.

Having been given less than three years to live when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in April 2015, Charles waited over three years for his new lungs to arrive.

“It was quite hit and miss during those three years, with my health slowly declining as time went on, and then getting the flu in January 2018, I started to think it might never happen.” But in May 2018, Charles received his call for new lungs and hasn’t looked back.

He returned to the stage after a four year break in January, having undergone a double lung transplant. He played Buttons in Cinderella at the Regent and is now taking to the stage in what is known as one of the most demanding roles in musical theatre.

“It’s been a crazy journey so far and now I’m facing one of the most demanding roles of my career. With the whole show being from Judas’s point of view, I rarely leave the stage, so this will really test me and my abilities, but I can’t wait to take on one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most iconic musicals.”

Taking on the title role of Jesus is Matthew Traher, who said: “Playing Jesus has to be one of the highlights of my theatrical career …the physical, mental and emotional journey of the last six days of Jesus Christ’s life is not only a challenge but a joy to portray.

“Jesus is the puppet master of his own destiny and with the help of this amazing company of actors we will bring that to life through the eyes of Judas.”

The role of Mary Magdalene is played Kirstie Rogers.

She said: “Mary isn’t my usual role in a musical, having last played Cynthia in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and with it being the only female lead in the show I had a lot of strong competition, so I was surprised to have been given the part but am extremely excited to get up there and get started.

“Not only does the character play a pivotal role in the show but she also sings some of the most well-known female songs in musical theatre, I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ and Everything’s Alright, so there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. Thankfully we’ve got an amazing director and musical director to point me in the right direction and help me bring this iconic role to life.”

This 1970s rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, is presented by BBLOC (Bournemouth and Boscombe Light Opera Company) and features all the well-known songs including I Don’t Know How to Love Him, Everything’s Alright and Gethsemane. BBLOC is Bournemouth’s biggest amateur musical theatre company.

Jesus Christ Superstar runs at Bournemouth Pavilion from Wednesday, July 24 to Saturday, July 27. Tickets £18.50 – £22.50. To book, see bhlivetickets.co.uk