Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at La Jolla Playhouse- UPDATED
Jesus Christ Superstar was the surprise hit of Stratford's 59th Season, boasting a completely sold out run (including a one week extension) and visits from Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice. The Broadway-bound show opened at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego last night and runs through December 31.
The cast features Bruce Dow as King Herod, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Jeremy Kushnier as Pontius Pilate, Mike Nadajewski as Peter, Paul Nolan as Jesus and Josh Young as Judas, with Marcus Nance as Caiaphas, Lee Siegel as Simon Zealotes and Aaron Walpole as Annas. Also in the cast: Matt Alfano as Thaddeus, Mary Antonini as Elizabeth, Karen Burthwright as Ruth, Jacqueline Burtney as Mary (Martha's Sister), Mark Cassius as Matthew, Ryan Gifford as Bartholomew, Kaylee Harwood as Sarah, Melissa O'Neil as Martha/Maid by the Fire, Laurin Padolina as Rachel, Stephen Patterson as James the Lesser, Katrina Reynolds as Esther, Jaz Sealey as Thomas, Jason Sermonia as John, Julius Sermonia as James, Jonathan Winsby as Phillip, Sandy Winsby as Andrew and Jennifer Rider-Shaw and Matthew Rossoff as swings.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times: O ye of little faith. To all those who made snarky comments when it was announced that “Jesus Christ Superstar” was being resurrected by Des McAnuff, I say unto you, “Go down to La Jolla Playhouse and observe the benevolent gift of this revival, which has had the miraculous effect of turning even an Andrew Lloyd Webber denier like me into a momentary believer.” ... Don’t fret, as I did going in, about spiritual dividing lines. Tightly focused and beautifully measured, this “Jesus Christ Superstar” gives everyone a reason to artistically rejoice this holiday season.
James Hebert, Sign On San Diego: What McAnuff does to redeem the piece’s shortcomings, though, is just about heroic. His production keeps sharp focus on the figure of Judas, portrayed by Young with intensity and a captivating sense of ambivalence. He earns the character a hard-won sympathy, even as Judas betrays Jesus to the Romans; the complexity of Young’s performance helps deepen the tensions in what McAnuff has called the “secular love triangle” among Mary Magdalene, Judas and Christ.
Welton Jones, SanDiego.com: Any doubts that JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is a genuine modern musical masterpiece should be banished forever by the splendid production in residence at the La Jolla Playhouse through December. Furthermore, though I will never be known as a devout religionist, I can’t imagine a more moving, more spiritual delivery of Christianity’s core story than this ... It may be some time before a more thoroughly satisfying production of a masterpiece will be available on a local stage. I can’t recommend it more sincerely and I particularly would hope than genuinely religious audiences find their way to the Mandell Weiss Theatre at UCSD. This is a gift that should be shared by all but could be even more special to many.