A heavenly rock opera

2011-06-10 15:47

Director Paul Warrick Griffin’s successful adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1971 rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, is bigger and better.

Griffin has expanded the scaffolded set across the generous Teatro stage at Montecasino to recreate his edgy, updated version of this classic musical.

With the Roman enforcers clad in camo and the disciples dressed as pseudo-hippies, the stage is set for a showdown between the establishment and a group of idealists set on changing the world.
It is arguably the best of the Webber-Rice creations because it doesn’t peak in the first act or the second. Instead, the good musical numbers are spread across both.

It also boasts a number of meaty roles, each with a distinctive sound, and our local talent makes a meal of it, with the hard-working ensemble shimmying in and out of numerous costumes and supporting roles.

The principal cast has been rejigged slightly since the play was staged in a pared-down format a couple of years ago.

Powerful singer Candida Mosoma was Mary Magdalene in the original, but due to her Dreamgirls’ commitment, the role had to be recast.

It was with trepidation that I saw her replaced by Nadine, a singer I had never heard of.

Though she has an unforgettable vocal act to follow, pop starlet Nadine acquits herself admirably, producing a powerful performance.

Cito reprises his role as Jesus and is better than ever. The Wonderboom singer gives a good dramatic performance, delivering more than just his soaring singing voice. Considering the other leading roles are filled by well-seasoned musical performers – Anton Luitingh, Jonathan Roxmouth and Terence Bridgett – both Cito and Nadine hold their own and then some.

Roxmouth is good as the brooding, conflicted betrayer Judas, and Bridgett provides the laughs with King Herod’s Song, which he performs decked out in a Baroque-slash-dreadlock-inspired get-up.

The musical follows the format of The Passion Play, tracking the last week of Jesus’ life before his crucifixion, though you don’t necessarily have to know the story to enjoy the music.

Full of song and dance, it is as much a celebration as it is an exploration of Jesus the man told from Judas’ point of view.
» Jesus Christ Superstar runs at the Teatro at Montecasino until June 26. Book at Computicket

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