Jesus Christ Superstar at Regents Park Open Air Theatre
Regents Park Theatre are currently showing a special concert version of the show, with the same team that brought the full show to Regents Park in 2016 and 2017 as well as the Barbican last year. I saw in when it was on in 2017 but I decided that another visit was in order.
Whilst the show is billed as a concert version and a shorter than normal running time (90 minutes) calling it a concert does it an injustice. Whilst the vocals and the sound took centre stage, the choreography and the inventive staging just as spine tingling. Last time I saw the show I was slightly confused by its identity but this reworked version really suited it, lending itself to the rock concert vibe.
Whilst Jesus Christ Superstar has always been an emotionally charged show the feeling of being back in this large auditorium was an emotional enough feeling. Combine this with the symbolic act of the cast slowly lowering their masks as the show began and I was emotional from the beginning.
I was interested in how the cast would remain socially distant and as ever the show approached this with imagination. The show uses the set of Evita which is essentially a huge staircase. Just by having these additional levels it helps create more space between the cast as well as stunning staging opportunities. Other moments such as Mary tending to Jesus and Judas betraying Jesus were just as tender and possibly even more poignant due to the symbolism used.
The roles of Jesus, Judas and Mary are double cast. I saw Declan Bennett as Jesus, Ricardo Afonso as Judas and Anoushka Lucas as Mary. Afonso’s performance alone was worth the ticket price and he was well deserving of his standing ovation after the Superstar number. Declan Bennett had also grown in the role since I saw him in 2017, coming across as charismatic and easily believable as a leader. His vocals also seemed more self assured and in the moments where Afonso and Bennett were singing this rock score at each other you could almost hear the collective appreciation in the audience.
The rest of the cast deserve a huge amount of plaudits also. Genesis Lynea was the mob leader and a soul singer and provided a captivating presence throughout, Shaq Taylor as Herod provided sass and welcome light relief whilst Ivan De Freitas and Nathan Amzi as Caiaphas and Annas really gave the priests moments some personality.
The band are hugely important in show with a huge rock score and with Tom Deering as Musical Supervisor and Nick Lidster as Sound Designer they really did the score justice. The band and vocals were well balanced and the lighting by Lee Curan was spectacular against the night sky.
Even those that have seen Jesus Christ Superstar over recent years need to head to Regents Park to see this reimagined version. With stunning sound produced by this talented cast and band and an inspiring staging it really must be seen and heard to be believed.
Jesus Christ Superstar is on until 27th September. Whilst the show is sold out you can buy lawn tickets for the live relay. To find out more about Jesus Christ Superstar, to book tickets and to read about the 2021 season visit their website.