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Reviewed: Jesus Christ Superstar at Curve 2024

Physical theatre meets rock concert.

Gyrating, convulsing, and rhythmically thrashing as though their lives depended on it, the ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar are the superstars you don’t want to miss.

Showing at Curve until Saturday, a multidimensional set and multitalented cast put their all into every motion. Meanwhile, Jesus and Judas move through stages of their friendship vocally sparring until the inevitable happens.

First staged on Broadway in 1971 with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera that shows us the last few weeks of Jesus’ life, from the perspective of disciple Judas Iscariot.

Told through a series of rock and contemporary compositions, it features the memorable songs I Don't Know How to Love Him, Superstar, and Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say).

Known for its unconventional telling of a biblical story, the musical brought a fresh energy to musical theatre. When first staged, it resonated with a younger audience and challenged traditional theatrical conventions. This 2024 production achieves the same under Tim Sheader’s direction, Drew McOnie’s choreography and Michael Riley’s musical direction.

Physical theatre meets rock concert, presenting the audience with a loud, chaotic yet precisely choreographed first act. It’s hard to follow if you don’t know the story but the pure spectacle of people moving their bodies in such ways is enough to distract anyone from what’s going on. Minimal character development allows you to focus freely on the ensemble, especially Jasmine Jules Andrews who was beautifully captaining the dancing disciples.

Sparkling in clever symbolism, golden glitter is used to represent biblical miracles and Judas’s hands drenched in liquid silver paint imply the payment of his betrayal.

Act two is where the real magic happens. Special effects makeup, dazzling lighting, speakers cranked up to 10.

Jesus’ epic rendition of Gethsemane had the crowd in adoring applause and Judas’s Axl Rose style vocals cut sharply through building tensions. Herod’s fabulous cameo appearance by Timo Tatzber for Herod’s Song was rewind and replay worthy. Bellowing bass Jad Habchi as Caiaphas was vocally hypnotic. And a chorus of clashing harmonies that seem to go on forever at Jesus’s crucifixion had audience members fidgeting in their seats with discomfort, as did his beating where we saw him thrown from each ensemble member smearing his blood across their white smocks as the manically move around the stage.

An understated set of bows closed this gorgeously gruelling performance.

Epically immersive and emotionally shattering, I’d find the mental strength to watch this retelling of Jesus Christ Superstar over and over.

See Jesus Christ Superstar at Curve until Saturday, February 17.


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