Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
In addition to presenting a biblical story with Andrew Lloyd Webber's contemporary music and Tim Rice's often colloquial lyrics, Superstar surprised its original audiences by being sung-through, omitting all spoken dialogue. Thanks to Lloyd Webber and his followers, this mode of performance has become standardand audiences familiar with the composer's subsequent works will hear echoes of his other works in the score.
Tom Scutt's scenic design places the spirited orchestra on the second level of the set, with cast members on occasion joining in on guitar from the stage floor. The central set piece is an enormous, raised cross-shaped platform that becomes, for example, the table where the apostles gather for the Last Supper and the Temple where the priests Caiaphas (sepulchral Alvin Crawford) and Annas (Tyce Green) share their concerns about civil unrest in Jerusalem. In keeping with the work's rock album origins, the performers use hand-held and floor microphones, which become part of the staging.
Aaron LaVigne is a soaring-voiced Jesus who grows in stature as he faces his doubts and insecurities, while Omar Lopez-Cepero is a compelling Judas who does what he does because he feels he has no other choice. Jenna Rubaii is radiant as Mary Magdalene, and Paul Lewis Lessard gets the showiest costumes (also designed by Scutt) as a Herod by way of Las Vegas.
Choreographer Drew McOnie makes full use of the wide Opera House stage as the sizable cast swarms, writhes on the floor, and seemingly never stays still. Lee Curran's lighting design jolts as focused white beams sweep across the stage and into the auditorium.
Jesus Christ Superstar runs through March 13, 2022, in the Opera House at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Lyrics by Tim Rice
The Regent's Park Theatre London Production