Tuesday, 30 June 2015

"Jesus Christ Superstar"
Nottingham Theatre Royal

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber's classic rock opera about the last days of Jesus Christ. It's difficult for a reviewer not to make comparisons with previous versions of the same piece of theatre and for me this production didn't live up to some of the other productions I'd seen.

For me it started off quite weak and I found the enunciation of the lyrics hindered the timing of the musical pieces and this started to grate after a while. Tim Rogers, who played Judas, which is what the story is really all about, seemed a bit shouty in parts which in turn made some of the lyrics difficult to hear. at times it was like listening to a Shakespearean actor present lines to rock music and this was just slightly off putting. That said in Act 2, he seemed to loosen up a bit and let the lyrics flow which suited the pace of the music and the timing came back.

Jesus was played by Glenn Carter, and again I wasn't that enamoured with this casting either. Sometimes it was difficult to hear him and at other times, he seemed to be shouting. I must admit though that the crucifixion scene was played out well. I was sorry that I couldn't warm to Glenn as Jesus in the way that I've been able to warm to other professional and amateur actors who've played this iconic role, and I can't put my finger on why that was. His "Gethsemane" also disappointed me as the note that should have been held wasn't and was slightly pitchy. He didn't, for me, live up to what I had expected.

X Factor's Rachel Adedeji played Mary Magdelene, and I afraid yet again she came as a disappointment as well. Her voice didn't suit the role. Okay she has a decent soulful voice but I got the feeling that she didn't commit to the songs. Her highlight for me though was, again in Act 2, with "Can We Start Again, Please", which she duetted with Peter, played by Edward Handoll.

There were several saving graces though in Cavin Cornwall who played Caiaphas. What an amazing voice and such stage presence. Herod, the comedy role, was again done different to other productions I'd seen and Tom Gilling ramped up the camp with "Herod's Song", brilliant piece of musical theatre. Pilate, was played by Johnathan Tweedie, and you could really tell the difference in vocal technique with Johnathan and the leads.

The lighting effects for this show were amazing and really created just the right emotive atmosphere, as did the sound design which at times sent shivers down the old spine.

All in all it wasn't a complete failure but there were parts that I really loved and others that maybe fell down for me compared to, say the Arena Tour with Tim Minchin as Judas and Mel Chisholm as Mary Magdelene, but these are big sandals to fill.

Great music and classic rock opera tunes but maybe the leads need to just let rip without shouting and control those big, long notes a bit more, and maybe relax into the roles.

"Jesus Christ Superstar" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 4 July 2015. if you're a fan, go see it, but if there's just a passing interest, I'd pass on it.

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