Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Jesus Christ Superstar
Also see Rebecca's recent reviews of Plum Bun and Red Riding Hood
Jesus Christ Superstar is a popular rock opera musical that tells the story of the final week in the life of Jesus Christ, from his arrival in Jerusalem to his crucifixion and resurrection, as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. The characters and events are portrayed in a way that emphasizes the human and political elements of the story rather than its supernatural aspects. The sensational score includes songs such as "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Superstar," and "Everything's Alright."
Imaginative, fresh, and modern, Drew McOnie's choreography was thrilling. The non-Equity cast executed McOnie's vision vigor and spirit. Tom Scutt's manic multi-level set was delightful and every costume in the production was spot on. I have no idea if the sound issues I experienced were unique to the theater–I cannot begin to imagine the technical issues that come up with a large scale touring production like this one–but sound designers Keith Caggiano and Nick Lidster needed to make sure the audience can make out the words coming from the actors' mouths. Director Timothy Sheader has ended up with a production that looks and feels amazing, but is frustratingly difficult to follow.
Jack Hopewell and Elvie Ellis delivered real vocal excellence and emotional intensity, but it is impossible to say more about their performances due to the sound issues. I hope that the next touring production coming to the Miller Theater can resolve these issues. It is a shame to see such a great show and exuberant cast constrained by technical limitations.
Jesus Christ Superstar ran May 2-7, 2023, at Kimmel Cultural Campus, Miller Theater, 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia PA. For more information on the tour, please visit ustour.jesuschristsuperstar.com/.