jesus christ superstar uk tour review

Jesus Christ Superstar tour – New Theatre Oxford

Bank holiday Monday saw me heading to Oxford’s New Theatre to see Jesus Christ Superstar show on tour. This was the version originally showed in London’s Regent Park Open Air Theatre, and is now on tour around the UK.

I bought my ticket on the spur of the moment, thinking ah, I know the songs and the story. I was sure I’d seen it before – whether on tv or elsewhere. It seems I hadn’t, and turned out I only new 2 of the songs as well – ‘I don’t know how to love him’ which was very emotionally sung and moving. And then the theme ‘Superstar’ which was brilliantly done by the ensemble.

jesus christ superstar uk tour review

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This is very much a modern telling of the musical.  Minimal colours in the costumes, modern casual clothing.  I did find it strange that the main characters were using hand held mics for singing.  Not something I’ve really seen in musicals, and a little distracting at first. 

The stand mics worked really well for the pharisees though – the choreography went so well using those, and getting across their aggressiveness.

The musicians were on the framework blocks above at the back of the stage – we could only see the guitars, and keys, but I did spend quite a bit of time trying to work out where the wind instruments were.  The music in the show is rock based, so it’s not dated the score at all.

I thought the singing and dancing was excellent. Quite modern choreography which looked great, and the staging worked well. It was dominated by the cross which was used as part of the stage.  

Unfortunately there wasn’t a cast list available in the venue (I really wish they’d stick one up on the wall at least), but the cast list is on the website.

Judas, full of angst over the way Jesus was spreading the word of good, was played excellently by Shem Omari James. Hannah Richardson was great as Mary, her solo songs were so moving.  

Ian McIntosh’s Jesus was interesting. He seemed a very lackadaisical, laid back kind of guy. Great singer, but not how I’d imagine Jesus as a leader.

Herod was totally different to how I expected, a bit of comedy, camping the character up. For me yes it lightened things up a bit, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea.  Some shows have Julian Clary performing, but not in Oxford.

I think this was the first time I’ve been to the theatre in a long time and there hasn’t been an encore which felt a bit flat with all the lights going up straight away after the bows. But maybe it’s the type of story line that there’s not really a celebratory song to finish for a bit of fun and happiness.

Overall I’m glad I went to see this show from the Jesus Christ Superstar tour.  Some people rave about it, some people hate it, and me I’m just in the middle.  It was well performed, but it didn’t give me chills or make me feel like I should see it again.

My journey home was very easy getting out of Oxford which made a change, so maybe I need to start using the alternate park and ride in future!

If you’re a fan and want to see the show, there’s still some tour dates left in the UK this year at the ATG website*.

What shows are on your list this year?

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