Without doubt one of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s greatest ever collaborations, Bill Kenwright’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar takes to the Palace Theatre stage this week. Telling the story of the last seven days in the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot, one time friend, now ultimate betrayer.
Glenn Carter takes on the role of Jesus, a role he has enjoyed performing in both the West End and on Broadway, he hits the high notes with ease and is clearly an audience favourite, strong and sure when needed yet heartbreakingly vulnerable during the highly emotional crucifixion scene. Tim Rogers plays the frustrated, sneering Judas who commits the ultimate betrayal. Former X-Factor contestant Rhydian Roberts was due to perform as Pontious Pilate but has sadly missed several performances on the tour, his understudy Jonathan Tweedie however did a fine job, whilst Rachel Adedeji (also a former X-Factor contestant)was tender as Mary Magdalene, her voice sweet and soothing.
Paul Fansworth’s set is impressive, complete with an imposing crown of thorns taking centre stage above the performers. Add to this fantastic lighting from Nick Richings and the atmosphere for this highly emotional piece of theatre is set.
Special mention must go to the High Priests, in particular the booming bass of Calvin Cornwall as Caiaphas and Alistair Lee who takes on the role of the sneering, arrogant Annas with ease. The contrast between the dark plotting during ‘This Jesus Must Die’ and the bright optimism from the cast during ‘Hosanna’ was excellent. Tom Gilling camped it up wonderfully as King Herord, complete with sequined nipple tassels and garish drag makeup. Special mention must go to Kristofer Harding, taking on the role of Simon, his solo parts were only small but it’s clear to see exactly why he’s been cast as understudy for Jesus, his voice is fantastic.
Bob Broad directed his musicians expertly, perfectly delivering Lloyd Webber’s rock musical score. With so many classic songs including, Everything’s Alright, Gethsemane, I Don’t Know How to Love Him and Superstar its clear to see why after over 40 years audiences are still coming back for more.
Playing at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until Saturday April 18th http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jesus-christ-superstar/palace-theatre-manchester/