Review Jesus Christ Superstar, Wales Millennium Centre by Jane Bissett

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Wonderful, powerful, explosive and emotional almost to the point of exhaustion is the only way I can describe the first night performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Donald Gordon Theatre at the Wales Millennium Centre – IT WAS ELECTRIC!

The whole performance was an assault on the senses from curtain up to the final act and culminated in a roaring standing ovation which brought the whole theatre to its feet.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a sung through rock opera which focuses on the final days of the life of Jesus from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem up to and including his trial and crucifixion. Written in 1969 by the amazing and talented duo, Tim Rice (lyrics) and Andrew Lloyd-Webber (musical score) has not been without controversy and comment. It is the age old story of popularity, fame, deceit, betrayal and corruption.  First brought to the stage in 1970 and to the big screen in 1973, it has endured for over 50 years and by the reaction of the Cardiff audience will continue to do so for many more to come.

Ian McIntosh’s performance as Jesus was inspiring. He took us on a journey of understanding of a man who was victim of the system and indeed an ultimate scapegoat for the ruling powers to control the masses. An age old story which is as relevant today as it was then.  McIntosh’s voice rocked the auditorium with every song.  His performance when bloody and beaten was so powerful that my theatre companion, who is generally very calm, admitted to wanting to stand up and shout “leave him alone!” and indeed you could feel a change in the atmosphere in the auditorium.

Shem Omari James (Judas) was outstanding and it was too easy to be swept away with him as he struggled with his emotions as he became the betrayer Jesus has predicted.  James gave a truly credible performance, his powerful voice was gripped with emotion and drama as he sang and this in itself translated his inner dilemmas.

When Hannah Richardson (Mary) took to the stage and sang it was almost a respite. Richardson was a most believable Mary, compassionate and heartfelt, when she was on stage you were always drawn to her as she seemed to anchor those around her. I enjoyed her performance throughout and her voice was quite haunting.

Matt Bateman who played Annas, the first High Priest, was wonderful. His voice and performance throughout was true opera, matched beautifully with the amazing voice of Jad Habchi which was like a deep liquid velvet and honestly I was memorised every time he opened his mouth and unable to take my eyes from him. Even if you didn’t realise you knew instinctively that that these guys were the baddies.

The casting of this production was superb. The costumes, set design and lighting were not what I had expected but this new and imaginative production really changed my mind and it pulled into a performance that just kept on giving. A good production is memorable for all the above reasons, this production is outstanding and there was not a single cast member who was not integral to the success of the performance.

This is a sung through musical and the power and volume of music is there right from the overture at curtain up and for this credit has to go the musicians, Felix Strickland, Ryan Webber, Gordon Davidson, Laura Llewellyn Jones, Gavin Tate-Lovery, David Csizmadia and Vanessa Domonique.

An experience which will stay with me for a very long time.

3 thoughts on “Review Jesus Christ Superstar, Wales Millennium Centre by Jane Bissett”

  1. I could not hear one word of the lyrics, drowned by the music, except for “ I don’t know how to love him” it was very disappointing. Anyone in the audience who did not know the events portrayed in this production would have no idea what it was all about.
    Dramatically powerful at the finale…….but how much better it could have been!!

  2. An amazing, emotional and heartfelt production that was the most delightful to watch and listen to. A true treat to see a cast fully invested in the production.

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