“Jesus Christ Superstar” Music by Andrew Lloyd. Words by Tim Rice. Directed by Jim Sharman, Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London W1. Tel: 01-437 6834
To begin at the beginning. I was born a Jew but not brought up to follow the faith. When I reached the age of understanding it occurred to me that even though we weren’t supposed to believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, anyone who received that much publicity must surely have existed.
Therefore it was with much trepidation that I went along to the Palace Theatre not knowing quite what to expect. JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR has already been a big box office success in the States and it really wouldn’t matter if every critic in the land panned it because it is one of those ‘automatic hits’ that the public will flock to like sheep.
The fact that there were so many irreverent moments in the show didn’t bother me that much as I’d already been warned by fnends who had seen the show and heard the record. Indeed there were several very moving moments handled quite tastefully mixed up with all the other bits.
This ‘rock-opera’ deals with the last 7 days in the life of Jesus who is portrayed suitably poker-faced by Paul Nicholas. The role of Mary is filled by a last minute replacement Dana Gillespie who does fine with her big ballad ‘I don’t know how to love him’ even though she seemed a trifle nervous. But the emphasis in this show seems to be on Judas or maybe it was just that Stephen Tate in this part seemed to eat up the stage every time he came on. This was without doubt one of the most hammy performances in the entire history of the theatre.
The earliest song to score is ‘Everything’s alright’ but as the tricky rhythm beat of this number is then repeated in several later songs it becomes rather a bore. There’s one called ‘Hosanna’ which to my ears sounded like a steal from Kurt Weill. This song involves a big routine with a dozen red streamers which are first lowered for Jesus to walk over and at the end of the number are thrown every which way.
Any moment I expected them to throw in some of His most publicized stunts such as walking on the water, or wandering into the audience with the loaves and fishes, or at least pass the wine around as they so kindly did in ‘Godspell’.
In the second act ‘King Herod’s Song’ stops the show. Its a trite corny number but it comes as light relief just before the trial. I must admit the crucifixion was handled beautifully and as nothing can follow that I won’t try to.