Jesus Christ Superstar Resurrected: My Review

Categories: Theater

Jesus-Christ-superstar-BROADWAY.jpg

He's back!

And looking good!

Jesus Christ Superstar -- the 1971 Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical based on the 1970 album -- has returned, in sharp contrast to Godspell, the Stephen Schwartz hippie tuner that also debuted in 1971 and has magically come back this year as well.

While the latter mixes sanctimony with shtick, Superstar was always more consistently earnest -- and never so tasteful than in Des McAnuff's production.

McAnuff's presented the show in a sleek, clean way that makes it all move very quickly, while getting to the heart of the betrayed-icon rock operatics.

The set consists of metal risers with video flashes and ticker messages ("Thursday ... Mt. Zion ... Passover").

The costumes by Paul Tazewell are unobtrusive, with some modern-day dazzle reserved for the baddies. (The message seems to be that even today we're torturing Jesus. No argument there.)

And the choreography by Lisa Shriver is athletic and inventive.

The cast generally goes for realness, starting with Jesus (a nicely underacting Paul Nolan), Judas (big-lunged Jeremy Kushnier filling in for a sick Josh Young), and Mary Magdalene (Chilina Kennedy, effectively playing her as a more up-front, less waiflike creature than usual).

As with McAnuff's version of The Who's Tommy, the kitsch level has been reduced in favor of the human element, and in the process, the sumptuous melodies are allowed to take center stage.

But bear in mind there's a neon crucifix at one crucial point.

And King Herod (Bruce Dow) delivers his taunting song like a male Liza, though it ends with suitable gravitas.

The result occasionally feels a bit segue-less, but with its great singing and slick staging, this Superstar made me a believer again.

PS: Yes, Jesus gets entrance applause!



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
Nyah
Nyah

Well, there are eight original musicals this year on Broadway. Since you're so concerned with the state of the genre, I'm sure you've bought tickets to all eight of them.

MartinNYID
MartinNYID

JCSS AGAIN? so bored with broadway.  Is Webber the only poof with a piano anymore? INstead of Carrie's old blood, how about some new?

Parevenu
Parevenu

Coming right after the more streamlined, "tasteful" Carrie, this sounds like a trend.

Lee Reeves Allen
Lee Reeves Allen

Musto, I was there, sitting across the aisle from you. I wondered what you thought of this revival. I am glad you liked it. Me too! It was a rolicking good time, and it made me sad to relive this story at Easter-time. Besides the melodic and sometimes forceful tunes, at its core, this a gripping, dramatic story for all times. We still live these moments of persecution, violence and government interference today. Kudos to this wonderful, earnest cast. And kudos to Webber/Rice revivals!

Deeva
Deeva

I love the score. "What's the Buzz," "I don't know how to love him," Jesus christ superstar," "Everything's All Right Now," etc. Beautiful memories. Thanks for the nice review, Musto.

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

With the few memorable songs Andrew Lloyd Webber presented here, one would have thought he'd be getting better the longer he practiced. Alas, JCS was as good as he was ever going to get, before turning into the worst blight ever suffered by the 20th-century musical.

Musto
Musto

Glad you enjoyed it too, Lee. I think the critics are snobs.

Loading...