Anne Hailes reviews: Jesus Christ Superstar

(null)Jesus Christ Superstar
Grand Opera House Belfast
Saturday 28th February 2015

I saw Jesus Christ Superstar in London years ago. At the interval two Cockney ladies in the row behind were discussing the story line. Lady one: Who’s the woman who’s after the man in white? Lady two: Mary Magdalene. Lady one: What happens in the end?

There can be very few people who don’t know what happens in the end and in this production the crucifixion is powerfully done. It’s a spectacular show, the lighting breath-taking at times, the set reaches the ceiling of the Grand Opera House, great carved pillars reflecting light and dark, two tall doors provide an impressive entrance in some scenes and especially effective when Jesus is carried shoulder-high from the cross to the tomb.

Over all the singing is superb and it’s a bit of a sing-along with songs that have been around for 40 years yet still fresh as paint, ‘What’s the Buzz’, ‘Hosanna’ sung as Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, ‘I don’t know how to love Him’, and of course ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.‘ For some reason Judas (Tim Rogers) was hard to understand at times, his has a tremendous voice but whether it’s a sound problem or fighting with the band we failed to understand the dialogue in some of the more upbeat numbers. Mary Magdalene (Rachel Adedeji) was a vulnerable character, sometimes whispering her words, other times she displayed great volume but it fell to Glenn Carter playing the difficult part of Jesus to impress and he did. Glenn has played this role on Broadway and the West End so he is well versed in the part and he plays it with intensity and his voice soars, one of the most moving moments is his singing of ‘Gethsemane‘ where he reaches remarkable heights. Glenn is well served by fellow cast members, Rhydian Roberts brings a dignity to the role of Pontius Pilate and a desperation to wanting to avoid condoning a Crucifixion. And Caiaphas (Cavin Cornwall) a tall, slim, intimidating figure with an amazingly deep voice. The apostle’s, the women and the children from Stagecoach Belfast are excellent.

This production by Bill Kenwright is outstanding and after seeing it many will turn to their Bibles to read the Easter story for themselves, which isn’t really why it was written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. They wanted a smash hit and they got it. The songs will linger long after you leave the theatre.

By Anne Hailes

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