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Jesus Christ Superstar | The Lowry

Directed by Timothy Sheader, Jesus Christ Superstar is touring the UK and captivating audiences with a powerful and mesmerising revival of an iconic global phenomenon which was first performed in 1971. The show was reimagined by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in 2016 and whilst it has a strong history and reputation to uphold, this critically acclaimed revival has massed glowing reviews, fans, and a 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. Told entirely through song, the performance follows an extraordinary series of events during the final weeks in the life of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of Judas.

Featuring lyrics and music by Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar and Tony winners Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and with choreography by Drew McOnie, the show is creatively breath-taking. The use of movement and sound within the performance is really one of the standout features, the ability to tell story and convey emotion through these mediums has been used so incredibly well that you are left mesmerised the entire time. Reflecting the rock roots that defined a generation, the legendary score includes ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’, ‘Gethsemane’ and ‘Superstar’. The fusion of 90s rock and gospel is so impactful and exciting, it feels like you are almost at a gig, and it works so well to portray the emotions and powerful themes such as revolution. The choreography feels largely interpretive, which may not be a style for everyone, but it was perfect for this story. McOnie and all the cast have done an impeccable job of using movement to express the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.

The show would have felt extremely different if it wasn’t for some of the brilliant production elements, this show relies heavily on the use of lighting and set design. Lighting designer, Lee Curran, has done a brilliant job of using the lighting to follow the storyline and bring importance to certain scenes. A standout moment was definitely during ‘Gethsemane’, where the use of bright white spotlights had the audience completely captivated and speechless. The set which featured two large metal structures, a fallen crucifix and a partly hidden olive branch felt almost industrial, it felt heavy and harsh which is maybe representative of some of the emotions that may have been felt during the final weeks. In comparison, the costume design was surprisingly contemporary and light, it felt like a crossover of something modern and ancient. The juxtaposition of the warm set lights and the cold costume colours was unexpected and yet it felt like exactly what this show needed.

Ian McIntosh (Jesus) and Shem Omari James (Judas) are outstanding, their performances of ‘Gethsemane’ and also ‘Heaven on Their Minds’ were two ‘WOW’ moments, two powerful performers who had caused the audience's jaws to drop. Jad Habchi’s (Caiaphas) voice was certainly unexpected, yet it was a voice no one will forget, complete and utter talent and it brought such a contrast to the other voices you could hear.

The performance was filled with unforgettable moments, however, some particularly stood out. The show starts with a vibrant burst of cast members filling the house aisles, on reflection, this was foreshadowing of how powerful and bold the show was to be. There is a use of a prolonged silence in act two, which was a very much opposite to the loudness and fast paced rest of the performance, it was perfectly timed for the audience to have a moment of reflection and thoughtfulness, you could have heard a pin drop. The use of what looked like silver paint to symbolise the blood on Judas’ hands was another great use of simple yet impactful prop use. There were so many highlights, it is hard to just name a few. On the other hand, there was definitely some (albeit rare) moments where the performance felt a little disjointed between songs, it felt like the flow was very occasionally interrupted.

The use of movement, song and lighting are incredibly impressive and have been carefully curated to tell this story, these can be appreciated by anyone. Jesus Christ Superstar is currently playing at The Lowry until the 25th May 2024, tickets and more information can be found here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography provided by The Lowry


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