Jesus Christ Superstar was originally written and released as a concept album back in 1970, before the rock opera hit the stage in 1971. Over the last 50 years, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s creation has amassed true superstar status.
Director, Timothy Sheader gave Jesus Christ Superstar a concert-style performance that was bursting with rock-star excess from the very beginning, right through to the end. Quite literally from the beginning as the performers arrived onto the stage running from the stalls screaming and there was a real buzz in the theatre almost immediately.
The set was multi-layered and cleverly scattered with crosses, the main focal point being a cross-shaped platform which became the stage upon the stage. Unexpectedly for me, the band were on the stage throughout and there was always something to notice, enjoy and appreciate. The choreography was phenomenal and every bang of the drum or chime of a symbol was executed to perfection with such a beautiful, purposeful flow.
Ian McIntosh played a rather street-savvy Jesus in modern attire entering the stage in a hoody and baseball cap, whilst Shem Omari James depicted Judas taking us through a journey of jealousy, confusion and regret.
The Pharisees were almost haunting entering onto the horizontal cross stage with perfect uniformity, their movements mechanical. Ryan O’Donnell played Pilate as a traditional rocker complete with leather jacket, whilst Julian Clary cruised onto the stage in true glam-rock style covered in gold from head to toe. Playing the crazed King Herod, Clary brought a touch of pantomime to the evening attracting lots of laughter and cheers.
It was an explosive performance full of excitement, but two calmer moments really stuck out for me. Firstly, Jesus’s solo “Gethsemane (I only want to say)” reduced many theatre-goers to tears as they were struck with emotion. It was certainly a perspective I hadn’t considered before when learning about his crucifixion watching Jesus query why this had to happen. The second was Mary’s (Hannah Richardson) emotional ballad of “I don’t know how to love Him” which was highly thought provoking.
Jesus Christ Superstar was wild, fast-paced and a real roller-coaster of a show which will no doubt leave you buzzing. Go see it.
If you want to read another review of Jesus Christ Superstar check this review of Jesus Christ Superstar in Manchester out here.