Musical Review: Jesus Christ Superstar

Details: More information can be found at http://www.playbill.com/production/jesus-christ-superstar-neil-simon-theatre-vault-0000013824

Score: 7/10

A musical is a show where there is dialogue and occasionally the characters break into song. An opera is when there is almost no talking and all singing. Jesus Christ Superstar is likely more an opera than a musical. Originally performed in the 1970’s, Jesus Christ Superstar has been revived a number of times. Despite its age, this show is still entertaining even though the story is predictable since it retells a religious narrative most people in America are very familiar with.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a musical retelling of the last couple of days of Jesus’ life according to the Christian Bible. That means a few noteworthy parables up to the crucifixion. Obviously it’s not exactly accurate since I doubt people sang during the story, but it hits a surprisingly large number of the original story’s beats. This is not Book of Mormon in that there is no heavy attempt to subvert Christianity in my opinion. I don’t think Christians would walk out of this show as Mormons would in Book of Mormon. Instead, Jesus Christ Superstar is a story that I think most Christians would not find that offensive.

The primary draw of this show is the music of course. The show is a product of the seventies as is its music. Expect rock, maybe even bordering into what we now consider to be pop rock. There are hints of Christian music melodies, but it’s a giant rock concert. The music is very catchy with a lot of high points. It’s a soundtrack I could listen to on my own time.

Every singer in the performance of this show I saw was very talented. This is indeed a show that requires some very talented and technically trained voices. The standout performance for me was the role of Judas, portrayed by Josh Young. Young is supremely talented and has a few numbers where he knocked it out of the park.

The stage is sort of elaborate and simple at the same time. It kind of looked like the setup they used Hamilton, but with a different tone obviously. There are some fairly large set pieces and big dance numbers. It’s an elaborate show.

Overall, I really enjoyed it, though the story was a bit flat for me, which is no fault of the show. I know Jesus’ story. I’ve heard it ad nauseam. If you expect a plot twist, you’re not going to get it. The show follows the story accurately enough, it just elaborates and adds a ton of color to the story (much of which is likely not in the Bible). I’m unsure if I would bring kids to the show. Maybe if I was devoutly Christian, maybe not if I were devoutly religious. At least if you’re an adult, it’s a good show to see. If you’re the type of theater fan who likes to be challenged, I don’t think this is that show. This is a rock concert. Jesus Christ Superstar is a classic of musical theater that will likely be remade over and over again as long as musical theater exists.

Score: 7/10

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