Jesus Christ Superstar is, in my opinion, a good musical which tells a rather exceptional story which, with insightful direction and a talented cast, can become something great. The cast for last night was exceptional and the design and direction, overall, something rather special.
The only person who I wasn’t 100% struck on was Rachel Adedeji as Mary Magdalene but then I think it takes someone truly out of this world to bring that character to life for me, particularly in the first act. I warmed to Adedeji’s performance as Mary’s character became more interesting in act two so we’ll blame the fact that I don’t like Jesus Christ Superstar’s Mary Magdalene much rather than the actress. In fact, my parents spoke very highly of Adedeji and using good old youtube I’ve looked her up and find that I quite like her voice too.
Anyway, I can’t speak about every brilliant cast member or I would have to write about each of them in turn so I will focus on the highlights, as agreed by my family!
Seeing Glenn Carter as Jesus was one of the reasons I booked this show. His performance in the 2000 recording was exceptional and became my benchmark for the role. It’s a lot to live up to live, and fifteen years on, but Carter managed to do just that. His dedication to the character, and to portraying both emotional and physical anguish, is something rather incredible.
Finally, Tim Rogers as Judas was wonderful. It took me a while to warm up to him… but then ‘Heaven on Their Minds’ seemed a bit out in terms of sound tech so one does wonder. However, Rogers portrayed a Judas who I grew to love. You ever get that feeling where you want to go up and hug a character? Lets just say that his suicide had my mother and I in tears. My dad’s a toughie. It was acted exquisitely. And ‘The Last Supper’ was wonderful with Rogers and Carter playing off against each other vocally in such a way that both were able to showcase their (rather great) abilities.
And while we’re talking of great acting we have to mention the intensity of the second act. I joked with my parents that we should leave after act one… before it all goes to pot! I actually don’t know how to put the second act into words. It features a couple of distinct scenes of obvious violence – the whipping scene and the crucifixion itself – and each of these scenes are drawn out much longer than is comfortable. There is no gratuitous violence and gore but the emotional reaction of the characters is more than enough. There’s no way that an audience can go away untouched from a performance like this.
The curtain call was rather short. The clapping wasn’t overly enthusiastic. There was no standing ovation. Walking out into the street I could hear people discussing the performance in a most positive fashion. The truth is that, at the time of the curtain call I think we were all to shell-shocked to actually show our appreciation fully straight afterwards.
I can’t get moments of the show out of my head. It was an astounding piece of art. Part of me wants to see it again. Part of me needs to give my emotions some serious time to recover.