Jesus Christ Superstar: (Seen at the preview performance on
16th July 2016). Some actors have now left the cast:
Timothy Sheader strips this modern classic right back to its
“rock opera” roots, ably assisted by choreographer Drew McOnie
and a skyscraper skeleton (note the hidden cross) set for the
massive cast to swarm over, from Tom Scutt.
Some online have
commented that its simple a pop concert, semi-staged. They are
wrong. This is an incredibly well-considered piece of work, with
the hysteria and hyped crowd of the first half falling away to
reveal gripping individual struggles in the second.
The details are beautiful – the silver treasure chest, the
blue effect (no spoiler), the golden symbolism (no spoiler
again) and cord (third spoiler denial).
The cast is outstanding. To deal with the vibrant young
company first, Charlotte Riby and Rosa O’Reilly are captivating.
The first as a zealot and masked militia, the second as a
rocking singer with energy to spare. Barnaby Thompson and Joseph
Prouse for the men make an impact too, versatile both vocally
In the named roles, Phil King is a lost Peter, Joel
Harper-Jackson gives Simon an edge and Peter Caulfield delivers
an unusual Herod’s Song.
As Mary, Anoushka Lucas (above) is saddled with the
most-overdone modern classic number, “I Don’t Know How To Love
Him.” and can’t make any impact at all with it. Unsurprising, as
there’s nowhere left to go that hasn’t been done to death
already. A nervous “Everything’s Alright” isn’t much better, but
should settle as the run continues. Fortunately, the monkey is
confident in this as her plaintive “Could We Start Again,
Please” delivered from high in the top corner, is devastatingly
Tyrone Huntley (above) as Judas is another reason to see
the show. A real character, not just commentator. His journey
and final pain are all too real, his stance as victim credible.
Which leaves Declan Bennett (above) as Jesus. Surprised
to be leader of his gang, preferring a guitar to lavish backing,
yet letting rip when it’s his show to do, he manages to fade and
surface with impressive modesty, as befits the role.
Fitting with this vision, the staging follows and re-enforces
every emotion. If it’s played a little too fast, and tries a
little hard at times, it is only down to early enthusiasm, the
monkey opines. This is a solid revival with a highly talented
cast. Try not to miss it, you’ll worry if you do. For this
revival everything is more than all right. It’s fine, indeed.
All photographs credit: Johan Persson. Used by kind
permission. Some photos are of the
original 2016 cast.