Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air Theatre review: Culture Whisper says ★★★★★
The annual Open Air theatre musical has fast become of the highlights of our summer. And it's not just the charms of the al fresco setting; with recent delights including the atmospheric, operatic Porgy and Bess and a jubilant revival of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Artistic Director Timothy Sheader has earned a reputation for top-notch musical theatre.
'Too much Heaven on their minds'
Sheader sets a modern scene at the centre of which is Jesus, played by Declan Bennett, with a baseball cap and light London accent who tokes on a rollie as his disciples sing. Tyrone Huntley, whose stadium-worthy voice can barely be contained in his light form, is the disenchanted Judas, looking on as Jesus crowdsurfs the people or trembles alone. Against a scaffold-like set, every single member of the London-styled cast (undercuts and hi-top trainers abound) is spectacular. Choreographer Drew McOnie's steps (In The Heights, Bugsy Malone) channel the power of a worshipful and then angry mob.
'No talk of God then, we called you a man'
Around a betrayal of biblical proportions, Pontius Pilate wields an electric guitar and copious eyeliner, Herod is a maniacal cabaret diva in gold
lamé and The Last Supper is a soft-rock ballad (cue a witty set piece straight out of Da Vinci). But the flamboyant touches are few, only serving to throw darker moments into relief. The crucifixion is all the more harrowing for blending showtune with murder, and Jesus heaves rattling last breaths dripping with glitter and gore.
Tyrone Huntley as Judas and ensemble, photo Johan Persson
'Do you think you're who they say you are?'
It's the first time a show by Rice and Lloyd Webber has been performed at the Open Air Theatre, and marks 45 years since the show premiered.
Jesus Christ Superstar premiered on Broadway then impressed on the West End, running for a record-breaking eight years. It has since toured 42 countries across the world, and grossed over $205 million. It began as a double concept album, penned by musical maestros Rice and Lloyd Webber, released to pave the way for a full musical. The rock opera songbook, with hits including 'I Don't Know How to Love Him' and 'Gethsemane', is beloved by musical theatre fans for drama and copious guitar work, and ekes maximum emotion from the well-known Gospel story.
|What||Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre 2017|
|Where||Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, Inner Cir, Westminster, London, NW1 4NU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Baker Street (underground)|
15 Jul 16 – 27 Aug 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
11 Aug 17 – 16 Sep 17, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£25 - £52.50|
|Website||Click here to book via Regent's Park Open Air Theatre|