I’m not a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber shows in general. It’s not that I properly dislike them, they just rarely appeal to me. There is one exception though. I adore the score of Jesus Christ Superstar. And if done well I think the show is a truly magnificent piece of musical theatre.
Jesus Christ Superstar is currently on tour in the UK led by Glenn Carter as Jesus. He has portrayed the role in the West End and on Broadway and also features on the Jesus Christ Superstar video (I’m guessing there is a DVD version but I actually do own it in good old VHS format). I can’t fault his singing and acting in this production. He does well with what he’s been given by the director. He is not the best Jesus I have seen but I was pleasantly surprised by his portrayal. There is no denying that he doesn’t fit the role age wise though.
Tim Rodgers is a strong Judas and the highlight of this production in my eyes. He has a great voice and manages to bring across just the right mix of anger, passion and despair.
Rachel Adedeji was off on the night I saw the show and I’m ashamed to admit I can’t remember the name of the understudy – the one time I don’t buy a programme this happens, that will teach me. If anyone can help me out I would be grateful because whoever was on for Mary Magdalene was quite simply wonderful: Beautiful clear singing voice and great stage presence, a joy to watch.
The rest of the cast does a good job – special mention for Cavin Cornwall as Caiaphas and Alistar Lee as Annas whose performances are particularly memorable in this production.
When it comes to the score you can’t really go wrong with Jesus Christ Superstar. The staging and direction however is a different matter. My favourite production so far was a modern staging of the show in St. Gallen / Switzerland a good 13 years ago (think Caiaphas in a black suit and Judas dressed all black with a tight shirt and biker boots). This production is a traditional take on the show which is absolutely fine. What – in my opinion – is not fine is the fact that the crucifixion is stretched to unbearable length. You get to witness every nail in the hands and feet in what feels like slow motion all with Jesus screaming and moaning in agony. For me this was painful to watch and completely unnecessary for the narrative. This combined with the fact that the end of the show and the finale have been set up as a kind of resurrection scene are major flaws of this production if you ask me. It’s too much sensationalism followed by too much kitsch.
But despite some let downs I enjoyed the show. It’s great to hear the score live and here you get a talented cast who really manages to do the songs justice.
Jesus Christ Superstar continues to tour the UK until 5th December. For more info and to boo tickets go to http://www.kenwright.com/index.php?id=1433