Jesus Christ Superstar at New Wimbledon Theatre

Jesus Christ Superstar is, in my humble opinion, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best score and despite having seen this production in Regent’s Park Theatre twice before I jumped at the chance to review it out on tour.

The show tells of Jesus’ life in his last few days leading up to the crucifixion with a focus on Judas and his growing dissatisfaction in Jesus’ superstar status. This production of the show, directed by Timothy Sheader and choreographed by Drew McOnie very much hones in on the rock superstar element of the show and the idea that Jesus had a following not dissimilar to many of the pop and rock icons of today. The show was originally written as a concept album and with the strong rock score this focus fits brilliantly into this production.

The directorial and chirographic choices veer away from the naturalistic with the Priests’ staff flipping to become microphones, Jesus picking up a guitar in the garden of Gethsamane and the whipping by Pilot symbolised by glitter being thrown at Jesus but this really helped lean into the superstar feeling whilst maintaining the grit of the show. McOnie’s chorography additionally assisted in portraying the idea of Jesus’ followers getting whipped up into a frenzy and the street style of dance helped the show feel current.

Ian McIntosh took on the role of Jesus and his rock vocals were sublime, with a rendition of Gethsemane that sent shivers down my spine to the more tender introverted moments which drew me in to his thoughts. Shem Omari James portrayed a conflicted Judas although at times I would have liked more power in his voice to compliment this epic rock score. Ryan O’Donnell was a compelling Pilate, clad in a leather jacket and pitched his 2 contrasting moments, Pilate’s Dream and Trial by Pilate brilliantly to show the full range of his vocal ability.

The set design by Tom Scutt combined with Lee Curran’s lighting design immediately immersed the audience into this world and the ever present cross on the floor of Scutt’s set ominously foreshadowing what was to come, whilst Curran’s lighting design both captured a gig feel in the big moments but also made the more tender moments such as ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him,’ feel personal and intimate.

If you like your musicals rocky and current then this production of Jesus Christ Superstar is the one for you, a brilliant opportunity to see and hear this incredible score performed in a blisteringly relevant manner.

Jesus Christ Superstar is on at New Wimbledon Theatre until 18th May. It then continues on its tour. Find out more on their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Blood Brothers, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and The Wizard of Oz.

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