By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At the Academy of Music today, a final dress rehearsal for tonight’s opening of George Frederick Handel’s “Messiah.”

The Pennsylvania Ballet, led by choregrapher Robert Weiss, has been rehearsing for about four weeks, and now it is ready to bring Handel’s magnum opus to the stage.

Jermel Johnson, who has the lead role in the second cast, says that after all the repetition, the steps are second nature to him now.  He says that dress rehearsal is more about commanding the stage and getting used to things like the lights.

“A lot of them are really bright at eye level,” he explains to KYW Newsradio, “and me, being short, they’re just right… there!  So (we’re) just getting used to it and being confident and knowing that we’ve rehearsed the steps over and over again so you can be a little bit more aware of where your surroundings are — and end.”

Messiah runs through March 17th.

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