Friday, 3 July 2015

Jesus Christ Superstar UK tour review

Playing at Theatre Royal Nottingham 30th June- 4th July this terrific production of Jesus Christ Superstar shows why Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's show has remained at the forefront of musical theatre since its conception in the early 1970s. Throughout the decades it continues to engage emotionally and this current 'on tour' show demonstrates this in spades.

Directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright this touring production features JCS stalwart Glenn Carter as a very likeable and emotionally complex Jesus who pulls out all the musical stops with his brave rendition of the deeply compelling song 'Gethsemane' and altogether wows the audience with the gentle power of his overall performance as Christ.

Opposite Carter is Judas Iscariot played by Tim Rogers who finds some affective sympathy in a man destined to betray Christ and sings his gutsy main role with great credibility bringing some truthful light and shade into a character that could potentially be seen as purely the bad guy.

There aren't any really complex roles for women in this show and the character of Mary Magdelene is thinly sketched with the famous and historically much covered 'I Don't Know How to Love Him' as her main number. Although competently sung by Rachel Adedeji it isn't until we get the final scenes of Christ's crucifixion that we see any true depth of feeling, other than initially comforting Christ, from Adedeji's character portrayal.

This production benefits theatrically from the presences of a very camp and funny Tom Gilling as King Herod. Equally we have Johnathan Tweedie as the politically and socially manipulated Pontious Pilate in a very strong and commanding performance. The audience are also in awe and a little afraid of the deep voiced actor (Cavin Cornwall) playing Caiaphas. Cornwall brings great authority to his character and even when silent one can sense the danger in the man that helped to execute Jesus through his dealings with Judas Iscariot.

The show's choreography is brought splendidly to life by choreographer Carole Todd and really achieves its best in the 'Simon Zealotes' number enthusiastically led by actor Kristopher Harding as Simon Zealotes and equally so in the title number 'Jesus Christ Superstar.'

The JSC ensemble work hard at telling the story of the last days of Christ and are wonderfully supported musically by the live orchestra under the musical director Bob Broad and the fantastic set designed by Paul Farnsworth and lit by Nick Richings. It was great to see the inclusion of some local children in two of the show's most upbeat scenes – 'Hosanna' and 'Jesus Christ Superstar'.

Jesus Christ Superstar in its current touring mode is a terrifically moving piece of musical theatre performed by a youthful and very talented cast.

Originally written for Nottingham Live

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