REVIEW: Jesus Christ Superstar ★★★★★ – Open Air Theatre

“…spectacular, with fantastic music and a talented cast.”

★★★★★

West End Theatre Guide London

Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The musical began its life as a concept album, featuring Murray Head as Judas, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as Jesus and Manfred Mann’s Mike d’Abo. The show then made its Broadway debut in 1971 and West End debut the following year. This controversial musical follows the story of Jesus Christ leading up to his crucifixion.

In this production, Jesus was played by Declan Bennett (Once, American Idiot, Rent). Bennett is brilliant in the role. He portrays Jesus as an ordinary human being who is experiencing the pressures of being followed and worshipped. Bennett excels with ‘Gethsemane’ where Jesus questions his impending fate but uncertainly accepts it.

At this performance, Joshua Dever (Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Grease) played Judas, with Tyrone Huntley (Memphis, Hairspray, The Book of Mormon) playing the role full-time. Judas is the driving force behind Jesus, willing him on, but ultimately betrays him, taking silver to help the poor for disclosing Jesus’ location. Dever was spectacular in the role, giving a magnificent performance of ‘Judas’ Death’.

Anoushka Lucas (The Etienne Sisters, Klook’s Last Stand, The Lightning Child) played Mary. Lucas was sublime as Mary and her vocal performance of ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ was breathtaking and touching.

A standout number in the show is ‘Pilate and Christ/Herod’s Song’, performed by Peter Caulfield (One Man, Two Guvnors, Cinderella, Into the Woods). Caulfield’s flamboyant and comical interpretation of Herod sees him prancing around the stage, taunting and challenging Jesus to live up to the hype of his legendary abilities.

The ensemble are phenomenal throughout the show, performing Drew McOnie’s ingenious choreography perfectly.

Overall, this production is spectacular, with fantastic music and a talented cast. It tells the well-known, tragic story from an alternative viewpoint, delivering the overall message that Jesus was only a human man and yet he touched and inspired so many, making the ultimate sacrifice for them, and then asks the question: why? This production of Jesus Christ Superstar is celebrating the musical’s 45th anniversary, and is showing at the Open Air Theatre (its first outdoor performance in the UK) until 27th August, with rumours of a West End transfer.

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REVIEW: Les Miserables ★★★★★ – Queen’s Theatre

“…a magical show which is both inspirational and heart-breaking.”

★★★★★

West End Theatre Guide London

 

Les Miserables is a musical by Alain Boubill and Jean-Marc Natel, with music by Claude-Michel Shoënburg, and is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It follows three intertwining story lines: the rivalry of ex-prisoner, Jean Valjean and officer of the law, Inspector Javier; the people’s rebellion with the boys of the barricade; and a love story between Cosette and Marius.

Jean Valjean was played by Peter Lockyer (South Pacific, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon). Valjean is on the run from the law throughout the musical, despite rising from slavery to become a respectable factory owner. Lockyer is phenomenal in the role, with his powerful voice conveying deep emotions. He delivers ‘Bring Him Home’ with a soft, tender tone.

Jeremy Secomb (Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera, Lend Me A Tenor) played Javier, whose strict interpretation of the law clouds his judgement and leads him to believe that people can’t change or be reformed. Secomb is brilliant in the role, delivering a memorable performance of ‘Stars’, the moment when the walls crumble for Javier and he realises the error of his ways.

Rachelle Ann Go (The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Miss Saigon) featured as Fantine, Cosette’s mother, a very tragic character who gives everything to her daughter so that she can have a chance of a better life. Ann Go sings the iconic ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ with beautiful vocals and great emotion.

At this performance, the role of Cosette was played by Charlotte Kennedy (Curtains, A Chorus Line, Romeo and Juliet), with Zoë Doano (Sweeney Todd, The Grand Tour, High Society) playing the role full time. Kennedy gave a fantastic performance, particularly with ‘A Heart Full of Love’.

Craig Mather (Sweeney Todd, Tonight’s the Night, Spring Awakening) played Marius, who recently joined the cast, replacing Rob Houchen. Mather plays Marius with a confused boyish quality, as the character struggles between standing with his friends on the barricade or following the path of love.

Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon) starred as Éponine, having recently taken over the role from Carrie Hope Fletcher. Noblezada gives a memorable performance, delivering a spectacular performance of ‘On My Own’. Noblezada will be making her Broadway debut, reprising her role as Kim, in the revival of Miss Saigon in early 2017.

Overall, Les Misérables is a magical show which is both inspirational and heart-breaking. It has been performed in 349 cities, in 44 countries and has been translated into 22 different languages. It is one of the most iconic musicals of all time and it certainly lives up to its name.

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