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Jesus Christ Superstar

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3 Reviews

Lyceum Theatre, Wellington Street, WC2E 7DA. Tel: +44 (0)20 7656 1803. Nearest tube: Covent Garden. Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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    3 Reviews
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      20.11.2001 05:50
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      I've just realised an lifelong ambition and learnt a bitter lesson. I have wanted to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the theatre for a long time, but for some reason or another have always missed - and not living in London hasn't really helped the matter. My ambition was fuelled by the realse of the Jesus Christ Superstar video which is superb all round, giving a more in depth look at the characters and the feeling of being in there and involved - which is something for a recorded event. By all accounts and within all reason the live show should have been just as compelling but I found myself a little disappointed - not with the show as a whole, but with an actor... Jesus Christ Superstar focusses on the last seven days of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Following his teaching to the disciples, triupmhant entry to Jerusalem (Hosanna) and through to his trial and ultimately his death at the hands of the Roman and Jewish authorities who saw him as a threat to their stability and way of life. The songs are, on the whole, great with Lloyd Webber's hummable melodies and Tim Rice's lyrics. The costumes are mostly modern day - the Roman authorities are dressed almost facistly with long leather coats and military overtones. The scenery, though sparse, is effectively used as is, to some extent, the lighting. Lets start at the beginning - I am a group booking organiser. Sounds grand, but really in reality it means that I manage to bully enough people into going to see something that I want to see so I can get it cheaper. If you like the theatre and have got fed up of paying through the nose, try it - you may well succeed. 20 of us arrived at the Opera House in Manchester to see this full of anticipation and excitement. I was glad to see that the stage production was in the same vein as the recorded video by virtue of having the same director in Gale Edwards. The stage consisted of a two tier walkway, separated by a platform that moved from the s
      tagefloor to the top of the ceiling out of view. The cross was hanging behind this at the start and during the overture, lit up very brightly, which was handy as the dry ice had hidden the first ten rows of punters, and scarred the retina so that for the first part of Judas' song you were squinting to get rid of the lights that your retinas were telling were still there. Very effective, very painful. Painful - this leads me onto the music, or more correctly the amplification which at points was eardrum shatteringly loud, particularly when the women reached their high notes. Now I don't consider 25 as being old, but I felt like a pensioner that night holding my ears for fear of bleeding over my next door neighbours posh frock because my ear drum had just ruptured. I overstate, but you get my point... The show itself is stunning, but why they felt it had to be SO loud is beyond me and, at points, particularly the moving points detracted from what the actors were doing on stage. The actors - oh the actors. I always thought that actors must enjoy their job or perhaps Arvid Larsen, who played Jesus, was just having an off day. He spent most of the performance looking like he was just 'going through the motions' without any form of emotion or acting to speak of particularly in the first half. He did perk up in the second half with an excellent rendition of 'Gethsemene' - one song I have wanted to hear live for ages - and started to put real emotion into what he was singing. That was great, so moving and a complete contrast to the first half. Mark O'Malley as Judas was very good as was Cat Simmons (I remember her from Children's Ward!) who played Mary Magdalene. Both putting their all into their performances. The rest of the supporting cast were also very good. However, I have one big niggle - having seen Rik Mayall play Herod in the vid I was amazed that Herod in the show is some sort of panto villain, hi
      deously made up with white face paint and angular blushered cheeks. Damn - that was a let down. This guy was a King not a transvestite! Lordy, what were they thinking... There is a key turning point in this production and it happens during the song 'Could we start Again Please?' A mellow song sung by Mary and the Apostles as they realise what is about to happen to Jesus. They sing this from the second tier part of the set as, below them, Jesus is beaten up by guards. Sounds awfully contrived, but was beautifully and almost balletically choreographed in slow motion. Breathtaking. From this we move onto the trial and the 39 lashes that Jesus recieves was again a highly moving, though uncomfortable part of the show - again full marks to choreographer for presenting this effectively. From here we move to the cruxifiction through the title song via a very interesting comment on the way media presents breaking news. Jesus carrying the cross across the stage was filmed with live TV cameras and projected onto a large TV screen hanging above. The cruxifiction itself was again moving, uncomfortable and very well done. The cross of lights makes another appearance this time to even greater effect as it lights up behind Jesus' cross on the line 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.' Implying something inexplicable for the authors of the show had just happened on the cross. Again breathtaking... Overall the show was compelling - thoughtful and challenging in places. The singing was good and, on the whole (discounting Arvid Larsen in the first half) the acting was also as good. The staging and the use of lighting etc was also good, but this show is simply not on a par with anything else I have seen. Better than West Side Story, which - to be frank - was very poor, but not up there with Phantom, Les Mis or Chicago. I'd see it again - I love going to the theatre, but it'll be some time. It has just finished it&#
      39;s tour of the UK. I'm not sure what is going to happen with it now - but I bet it'll keep runnning. Be re-imagined in a couple of years and toured again. It played to a full house at the end of its run - there's a few years in the legs yet I feel. Please don't get me wrong. I didn't hate it I just felt a little let down, by a non-plussed actor. Give me a go - I'll show you how it's done...but then from the stalls we're all experts aren't we?!

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        22.08.2000 06:43
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        Well Seen The Show Only once but great lights, sound, set and the cast were Fab. Looking Forward To Seeing It Again I Think I Am Hooked On The Show And Look Forward To Seeing It In The Forseable Future And Maybe Work On The New UK Tour (You Just Don't Know What Is Around The Corner!) Don't Want TO Say Much About The Show As I Think It Woul Spoil It For Others But All I Can Say Is: SEE IT OR MISS OUT!

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          06.07.2000 03:44
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          I think this is probably my favourite musical, and I have seen quite a few. The music ranges from upbeat to haunting and will stay with you for days after you have seen it, as will some of the scenes from it. It focuses on the time leading up to Jesus's death and most of it is very moving and emotional. The acting was absolutely superb and the voices of the singers/actors were amazing too, everyone really put their heart and soul into it which does not always seem the case with every musical or play. Many of the songs are very catchy and I liked the whole thing so much I bought the soundtrack. The end scenes are shocking, moving and will probably leave you stunned for a little bit. The actor playing Jesus was so convincing when he was screaming in agony on the cross that there was seriously a doubt in my mind as to whether he was acting or whether something had gone wrong. Fantastic, really a must see musical.

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