Jesus Christ Superstar UK Tour Review

Jesus Christ Superstar originated as a concept album between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Since then it has been transformed into a film, and had many stage adaptations including the latest version. Originally taking place in the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, this production of Jesus Christ Superstar has been revamped and transformed into something that is like nothing you have seen in a Lloyd Webber show before. And in my honest opinion, it's made it all so much better! 

Currently adapted for a UK tour, this version is hitting venues across the UK and has landed at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton for a week to inspire and entertain audiences. 

The story of Jesus Christ Superstar follows Jesus' last few days of his life as he ventures through love, betrayal and sacrifice. You are introduced to characters that have a vital part in those last few days, and see how they interact and treat the title character in his last few moments before crucifixion. 

Set to the soundtrack that wouldn't be amiss at a rock concert, there is a live band on stage and many of the actors themselves are playing instruments whilst they perform. There is a true blur between musical and staged concert and as someone who loves nothing more than both musical theatre and rock concerts, this was right up my street. In fact, Ryan O'Donnell as Pilate was the Jesus Christ Superstar version of Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys as he had the confidence of a rockstar whilst he played guitar on stage. 

The staging reflected the rock nature of the show with scaffolding, a giant metal crucifix, and microphones swinging around stage. Whilst I loved the microphone element of the show and how it was handed around similar to how the power in the show shifted, it was occasionally hard to hear some of the complex lyrics as clearly as I would have liked. Having said that, the phenomenal choreography that rippled around stage like a TikTok trend was hypnotic and entrancing. It's testament to the cast at how well this show told this fairly complex story with ease. 

Luke Street was absolutely phenomenal as Jesus. He truly owned the role of Jesus and truly had everyone on the edge of their seat. His vocal range was second to none and I didn't know if I was at a heavy metal concert with his growls and screams, or a musical theatre performance with his brilliant acting and heart. His rendition of Gethsemane was nothing short of perfection and was robbed of a standing ovation at the end of the song. His performance alongside Shem Omari James as Judas and Hannah Richardson as Mary proves that alternates work just as well in any role they are cast as. Both James and Richardson played their roles brilliantly and I loved the cold hearted cynicalness of Judas and the warm and loving side of Mary. 

I loved the juxtaposition of parts of the show that led you from starkness to strangeness. With one moment you see Jesus beaten and bloodied but the next you see glitter thrown around stage as Jesus is being lashed 39 times. Timo Tatzber as Herod was incredible. His performance gave a sinister feel that was akin to the Emcee in the recent production of Cabaret with oddities and eccentricities that left you bewildered and entertained. I also felt that Jad Habchi and Darius J James as both Caiaphas and Annas were incredible. Their vocal range was insane and truly impressed me. 

Overall, this interpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar is what the show needed to feel fresh and relevant. Whilst there are some elements that I was not a fan of such as the constant use of microphones (which to someone who knows the show will be able to follow the story, but to new faces will leave them bewildered and confused), it was still a show that left me truly loving and appreciating this rock musical for what it is; arguably one of the best pieces that Lloyd Webber has ever written. It's captivating, creative and unashamed to make you uncomfortable at times, but that is everything that you need in this show. It's truly a breath of fresh air to a show that has previously been stagnant and stale, but is truly brought to life with staging and performances that will leave you head banging in your seat and giving standing ovations with belting vocal ranges. 

On at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton until 30/3/2024 before continuing on a UK tour until August 2024. More information can be found below:

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