If you expect Jesus Christ Superstar to be a less colourful take on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, think again.
While there are certainly fewer colours of the rainbow, the rock opera offers an intense and mesmerising Judas re-telling of the Biblical story of Jesus – with the humorous Julian Clary embodying the bedecked pot of gold at the end.
Executed by a very talented cast, the hit musical directed by Tim Sheader opened in Aberdeen last night.
And the crowd at His Majesty’s Theatre loved it.
Having grown up on some of the many musicals from legendary theatre duo Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, I had so far missed out on one of their most “moving and nuanced” creations.
I don’t quite know what I was expecting from Jesus Christ Superstar, but as the curtains lifted revealing an electric guitarist and an upside down cross, I realised I wasn’t in Sunday school anymore.
Hitting all the highs and lows
Overall, the impression imprinted was a rollercoaster of intense emotions, injected humour and well-sung ballads.
Shem Omari James, playing the conflicted Judas, opened with a strong rendition of Heaven on their Minds, setting the narrative for the re-telling.
Next on stage, we were introduced to Nordic-style youth pastor Jesus surrounded by hooded, moody dancers.
In between swapping trainers for sandals, Ian McIntosh’s Jesus displayed an incredible range throughout and a moving performance stole the show.
While the pair and Hannah Richardson as Mary certainly know how to hit the high notes, Jad Habchi’s ridiculously low bass notes for Caiaphas raised a few eyebrows as he carried out the feat with ease.
Sparkling levity and glistening eyes
A brushing up of Biblical knowledge may be needed to follow the first half but the last few scenes are universally familiar.
Jesus’s very human plea in Gethsemane received rapturous applause.
Applause which, minutes later, died a death in the face of a sliver-handed kiss of betrayal from Judas.
In the middle of building tension, a flamboyant Herod played by Julian Clary brought a humorous twist as he appeared in a runway of gold.
Stealing the show for a few minutes of levity, his rendition of King Herod’s Song captivated the crowds with his charisma, sparkly outfit and comic relief.
Ryan O’Donnell’s Pilate offered an insightful and emotional plea in the midst of Jesus’s gruelling trial, and by the time the show reached the crescendo, quite a few people were wiping glistening eyes.
As the curtain closed in silence, a packed theatre rose to offer a standing ovation with deafening applause.
Conclusion? It is definitely not a performance to miss and I’m glad I finally caught it.
Jesus Christ Superstar is at His Majesty’s Theatre until Saturday, October 14. Visit the theatre website if you would like to book tickets for the show.