Jesus Christ Superstar @ Playhouse Theatre, 20th August 2010 – Live Review

Review: Lana Harris

Rocking great guitar riffs fill the sold out venue, slow notes trembling across the grey walls of a ruined cathedral set, preparing the audience to receive the voice of Tod Strike. As Judas, he opens the narrative by launching into ‘Heaven on Their Minds’, a song which allows Strike to demonstrate a truly commanding voice and worthy of one of the lead roles in this production.

  This reimagining of the original production of Jesus Christ Superstar (first performed in 1971) has a pared back, post apocalyptic set that doesn’t change, and puts the focus on the singing, as does the score – which tells the whole narrative by using more than 20 songs to move the story forward. Not a single piece of dialogue is presented without a backing melody. The basic storyline is easy to follow – easier if you’re familiar with the story of Jesus, because even though this is a post apocalyptic version of a musical first performed in the seventies based on an interpretation of a book written centuries ago, the plot is still the basic biblical storyline of Jesus gets famous, Jesus is betrayed by jealous best friend, Jesus is crucified as a result of the backstabber.

The post apocalyptic setting of this tale makes it easy to draw parallels between this and the lives of modern day celebrities. The scenes where the supporting cast forms a mosh pit as Jesus sings boost the resemblance.

The best parts of the performance are the good times, when the supporting cast are expressing their excitement at being in the company of this messiah. Their brightly coloured rags fly recklessly across the stage as they dance and sing with abandon; the exuberance is intoxicating. But the crowd appreciates every performance. Not a song goes by without applause at its conclusion and Luke Kennedy (Jesus) is especially appreciated. Its not Kennedy’s first time in his role – he played Jesus in a Brisbane performance of Jesus Christ Superstar ten years ago, launching a career in musicals.

The extra experience he’s had lends a very polished edge to his portrayal. All the main players put on excellent singing performance on this night, with Naomi Rice as Mary putting in a solid performance and Kennedy demonstrating why his pipes gained him a spot on tour as one of the Ten Tenors recently. Strike’s long notes in his many solos are almost show stoppers.

This production of Jesus Christ Superstar was an exciting interpretation of the original rock musical. The feel was fast paced and fun – until the subject matter got heavier, and then the performers’ strong portrayals of their characters kept the audience emotionally engaged until the show’s (and Jesus’) end.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ QPAC Playhouse – 19th – 29th August 2010
19th – 29th August 2010
Tues to Fri 8pm
Sat 2pm & 8pm
Sun 1pm & 6.30pm

QPAC Playhouse
Visit Harvest Rain Theatre Company for full details!