Jesus Christ Superstar: Barbican Theatre, London
Reviewed 27th July 2019
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s cult hit Jesus Christ Superstar won the hearts of a new audience in 2016 with its innovative and fresh production at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Nominated for 6 Olivier Awards and winning ‘Best Musical Revival‘ in 2016, it was Drew McOnie’s modern, energetic choreography and Timothy Sheader’s brand new direction that instantly drew new fans to the show. The 1971 controversial show, has long been a favourite with theatre-goers and after two sell-out seasons at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre the production has had a limited run in Chicago and is now back briefly in London at the Barbican Theatre before embarking on a US Tour in November 2019.
If at all possible, this new production of Jesus Christ Superstar does the impossible task and actually exceeds its Regents Park run. It manages to keep the style and innovation of the Regent Park production and successfully takes the charm and uniqueness of the production into an indoor theatre. Lighting, by Lee Curran, is brilliant, and its use to highlight specific characters and moments in the plot is superb. The contemporary feel brings the classic musical, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, up to date for a whole new generation to enjoy. From the very second that it starts the audience are left hooked, mouths open wide, left wanting more. Drew McOnie’s contemporary choreography is simply stunning! It is arguably some of the best choreography seen in theatre in the last 5 years. It’s modern approach shouldn’t work so well with such an ancient story and yet it completely does. The energetic, dynamic dance moves are performed with precision and passion from every single member of the cast. Once viewed it is hard to imagine it any other way.
The 2019 cast are simply amazing. Robert Tripolino, as Jesus, starts quite soft and mellow but by the second act he shows his true potential in ‘Gethsemane‘. His vocals and characterisation is out of this world. As is Ricardo Alfonso, who stuns the audience with his amazing tone and strength as Judas and it is in his final scenes that he truly excels. Matt Cardle proves he is not just ‘star’ casting. He brings a whole new meaning to the character of Pilate and his compassion and empathy towards Jesus is portrayed beautifully. Once again his strong vocals are fantastic and are completely suited to the character. Sallay Garnett’s delicate and soft voice works beautifully as Mary Magdalen and she provides a wonderful contrast to the dark, powerful male vocals. The ensemble cast are truly magnificent. Each member of the cast work tirelessly and the whole cast work together seamlessly to create this stunning piece of art.
Jesus Christ Superstar is not new, in fact it is one of the oldest Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musicals but this production is reaching out to a fresh new audience and deserves to be seen. The modernisation enhances the story and the symbolism throughout the show, through the use of props, choreography and even glitter, is just brilliant. Its energy, theatrics, power and passion tell the story in a brand new way. It is just a shame that this production only has a short run. Do you not miss your chance to see this piece of history. Buy your ticket now!
Jesus Christ Superstar is playing at the Barbican Theatre until the 24th August 2019. For information and tickets click here.
To read my review of the 2017 production at Regent’s Open Air Theatre click here.
Photo Credit: Johan Perrson