Mandy Bruno Reunites with High School Musical Cast

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Mandy Bruno PicOver the weekend, Mandy Bruno was featured in The Oregonian - and it wasn't for work on Guiding Light.

Instead, it was for a role she earned long before that...

It's been nine years since Mandy Bruno scored the role of Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar" at Jesuit High School and ignited a heated, religion-driven debate that flared nationwide.

Bruno never walked on stage as Jesus. Leaders at the college-preparatory Catholic school required the part be recast with a boy in the lead. Bruno, instead, played Pontius Pilate.

The 1999 flap didn't harm Bruno's career. Now 26, she recently starred as Eponine in Broadway's "Les Miserables." Two years ago, she earned an Emmy nomination for playing detective Marina Cooper on television's daytime drama Guiding Light.

On January 5, Bruno was back in Beaverton, with about 90 other Jesuit theater alumni, all set to perform in a 10-year anniversary celebration of the school's Alex L. Parks Performing Arts Center.

The evening was meant to showcase talents of alumni, many of whom have gone on to careers in theater or teaching. But it was also a chance, Bruno said, to gauge how Jesuit's theater program, and her career, have matured since the much-publicized uproar about her selection to play Jesus in the musical loosely based on his life.

"I was definitely disappointed that I wasn't able to play that role," Bruno said, recalling how the incident sparked local and national debate. Reporters swarmed her family's Beaverton home and the high school. National talk shows wooed her.

"Then, my thinking was, 'How dare they not let a woman play the role,' that it was sexual discrimination," she says. "It was a lot for a 17-year-old to deal with. Ultimately, though, I think our school learned a lot from the experience, and that it helped future productions."

Read the full feature on Bruno and her classmates now.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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