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Powerful, Gritty and Raw – the sensation that is Jesus Christ Superstar!

Review by Shahnaz (Shiny) Hussain

Jesus Christ Superstar is a multi-award-winning rock opera that retells the story of the Passion, based on the accounts from the Gospels. Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and with lyrics by Tim Rice, the show has played to audiences for decades. This masterpiece delves into the psychology of Jesus and other characters, providing a unique perspective on their experiences.

This epic was directed by Timothy Sheader and choreographed by Drew McOnie, with design by Tom Scutt, lighting design by Lee Curran, sound design by Nick Lidster, and music supervision by Tom Deering.

Jesus Christ Superstar has been regularly reproduced worldwide since its debut, with various performances including a 2012 Broadway revival, an ITV competition TV show titled Superstar, which led to the casting of Ben Forster as Jesus in an arena tour, and a production at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Marking the 45th anniversary of the musical’s Broadway premiere.

The lead cast of Jesus Christ Superstar includes Ian McIntosh (Jesus), Shem Omari James (Judas), and Hannah Richardson (Mary). They are joined by Ryan O’Donnell (Pilate), Jad Habchi (Caiaphas), and Matt Bateman (Annas).

I’ll be honest, I have never had the inclination to see this show before, but I’m so glad I saw this particular production.

The creative team utilized all resources to produce a thrilling and chilling showpiece that exceeded my expectations with its magnificent staging.

The set design gave off a post-apocalyptic vibe, with the use of scaffolding, rolled steel joists, ladders, and flight cases. The spotlighted cross on the back wall was kind of reflected onto the stage as a lit platform which emphasized the action, while the moody and subdued lighting added tension. The costumes were also rather inspiring too.

During the performance, the musicians were positioned high up on the stage which I loved as they were very much part of the action, and it added to the overall experience. The composition, both the song and background music, was brilliantly performed by a team of highly skilled musicians, but at times it was incredibly loud. I wasn't completely convinced by the use of microphones and stands, as they detracted from the acting, I’d have preferred head mics, for me it broke the fourth wall.

Ian McIntosh portrayed Jesus magnificently, showcasing his unwavering commitment to the role with an abundance of emotional energy. His stunning performance was complemented by Hannah Richardson's portrayal of Mary, who was perfectly cast for the role and delivered an outstanding performance, showcasing her beautiful voice specifically in ‘I don’t know how to love him’.

The Ensemble was the mainstay of the show. Their synchronized and jerky dance movements were powerful and effective. At times, they created an atmosphere of love, while at other times they portrayed the tension of a mob. Their sound was both beautiful and haunting, particularly the dissonant and discordant vocals as they lamented the death of 'The Saviour' which I found harrowing. It was heart-wrenching and I wanted to cry. I also loved how the Last Supper was ingeniously depicted as the tableau from Da Vinci's famous artwork.

I was rather disappointed that the words were often inaudible, which made me lose the narrative. I only got to hear Judas' words on two of the quieter songs. However, it was still a Masterpiece and has stayed with me all though to the next day.

If you fancy seeing the show visit the website to book your tickets.


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