The harrowing tale of Jesus Christ’s last few days are retold in a spectacular new production at one of the region’s top theatres until Saturday – and if I were you, I’d get some tickets before they all go.
I suppose that, on the face of it, a musical marking the days before the King of the Jews is thrown up on the cross, seems a little ironic because you don’t really want to make a song and dance (literally) about it – especially a rock opera, but somehow, it really does work.
Having starred as Judas Iscariot at the tender age of 16 in an Alnwick High School version of it, I was totally stoked to see Glenn Carter reprise his role as Jesus Christ as he played Jesus in the film version in 2000. It’s also my favourite version of the two.
I was also really hoping that, 15 years later, Carter was still able to hit those tremendous high notes that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice give their male leads to sing.
I don’t think there’s a note left untouched in this show.
Luckily, Carter, alongside Tim Rogers as Judas and Rachel Adedeji (of X Factor fame), and the rest of the cast gave a stunning performance.
At times, I forgot I was watching a live performance and felt like I was actually being transported into that film I used to watch when I was younger.
The show was very hard to place. If you were just looking at the costumes you’d have Jesus and his apostles in traditional clothing, then the priests, all dressed in black, seem to have a contemporary feel about them. The set also had a more traditional feel to it, with the addition of the large crown of thorns which moved around and foreshadowed Jesus’s impending doom.
The fast-paced show, for those who don’t already know, look at the struggles between Judas and Jesus, focusing on Judas’s betrayal.
A varied cast managed to deliver a rousing performance as a whole, and I noticed that most of the cast were nodding their heads and enjoying the infectious rock-style opera.
The commanding low tones of Caiaphas (Cavin Cornwall) contrast dramatically with the exceptionally high notes heard from the likes of Judas and Jesus.
If you’re a one for celebrity casting, and, I’m afraid, I’m not, you probably won’t even notice that Adedeji was new to the stage at all.
She gave a beautifully graceful performance as the only female named role in the show.
The role of Mary Magdalene doesn’t really lend itself to a standout performance as I feel Lloyd Webber and Rice really underuse her and then shove a solo for her at the end because they had to give her something to do.
That aside, Adedeji gave a stunning performance as Jesus’s love affair, and her voice was flawless.
The audience favourite, as always, was King Herod (Tom Gilling), who turned the stage into a Turkish bath house and gave a camp-tastic performance where the ensemble were in nothing but towels.
For me, one of the main standout performances was Johnathan Tweedie as Pontius Pilate.
He had a very underused role, only appearing once in the first half, but when he came on stage, he had a certain aura about his being.
He gave a very David Tennant-esque performance, and that’s meant as a compliment, and came across as a very rational and understanding Pilate who literally had Jesus’s life in his hands.
Over the years, there have been some varied and different versions of Jesus Christ Superstar, and this version is certainly not to be missed.
Tickets cost from £12.50. For further details, go to www.theatreroyal.co.uk
or call 08448 112121.