Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Jesus Christ Superstar
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

The Cast
Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman
What a difference 50 years can make. At the time of its Broadway premiere in 1971, some audiences found Jesus Christ Superstar controversial and possibly blasphemous. The 50th-anniversary touring production now in the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, adapted from an earlier London staging, is both majestic and moving, filling the large stage with inspired visuals and heartfelt performances.

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 standard—and 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

Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Jesus: Aaron LaVigne
Judas: Omar Lopez-Cepero
Mary: Jenna Rubaii
Caiaphas: Alvin Crawford
Pilate: Tommy Sherlock
Annas: Tyce Green
Simon: Eric A. Lewis
Herod: Paul Louis Lessard
Peter: Tommy McDowell
Mob Leader: Sarah Parker
First Priest: Brian Golub
Second Priest: Garfield Hammonds
Third Priest: Darrell T. Joe
Soul Singers: Quiana Holmes, Jenny Mollet, Sandyredd
Peter's Accusers: Brian Golub, Garfield Hammonds, Sandyredd
Ensemble: David André, Sara Andreas, Wesley J. Barnes, Brian Golub, Brittany Rose Hammond, Garfield Hammonds, Quiana Holmes, Darrell T. Joe, Sheila Jones, Jacob Lacopo, Eric A. Lewis, Paul Lewis Lessard, Tommy McDowell, Jenny Mollet, Sarah Parker, Erick Patrick, Sandyredd, Chelsea Williams

The Regent's Park Theatre London Production
Directed by Timothy Sheader
Choreographed by Drew McOnie