Created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice when they were just 19 and 22 respectively, Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of the last days of Christ before his crucifixion. The musical is internationally renowned, and we are lucky enough to have the show come to Liverpool this Lent. Having never seen one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s pieces before, (being in Joseph aged 10 doesn’t count) I was a little unsure of what to expect, other than that it was likely to be very different to anything I had seen before. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The show was utterly powerful from start to finish. I had previously thought that it might be a little cheesy, but I left the theatre feeling really moved by the performance.
Unfortunately Rachel Adedeji (you might remember her from the epic voice announcements on X Factor) was unable to perform in the show last night, but I have to say that her understudy Jodie Steele didn’t let her down in taking on the role of Mary Magdelene. Jodie stole the show in my opinion with her absolutely beautiful voice, rivalled only by the awesome power of Cavin Cornwall’s voice in his performance as Caiphas. Rhydian Roberts is not to go without mention however, his dazzling hair and chiselled cheekbones were certainly very different to how I had ever previously imagined Pontius Pilate, but he really pulled it off. The show brought out different sides of biblical characters that you don’t really imagine when you think of the Easter story but it was actually really interesting, even a little provocative. (Pilate’s bromance with Jesus was a little odd…but y’know, it’s an interpretation I guess…)
The show was certainly a very different interpretation but I was expecting different and it was certainly that; not least with the appearance of Herod styled like a pantomime Dame and wearing nipple tassels. The modern twists in the performance were really effective, with the use of riot police style Roman soldiers and the paparazzi juxtaposing the solemnity of the rather foreboding set, which towered above the actors, dominating much of the stage. There was certainly heavy use of smoke machines in the performance but the combination of this with the lighting produced effects that were truly spectacular. All credit to Nick Richings the lighting director for the amazing scenes and atmospheres he managed to create, the show wouldn’t have had been the same without this.
The show flowed seamlessly and it was a real pleasure to watch, a really individual experience much different to other musicals I’ve seen before. If you like musicals, you really can’t afford to miss this one.
Jesus Christ Superstar plays at the Liverpool Empire 23rd -28th March 2015