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Review Roundup: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 50th Anniversary Tour - The Critics Weigh In!

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Review Roundup: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 50th Anniversary Tour - The Critics Weigh In!

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's iconic musical, Jesus Christ Superstar officially launched the 50th anniversary tour at Austin's Bass Concert Hall on October 8th before visiting over 30 cities including Los Angeles, Denver, Nashville, Dallas and Chicago.

The cast is led by Aaron LaVigne (Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark, RENT) in the role of Jesus along with James Delisco Beeks (Kinky Boots, Aida) as Judas, Jenna Rubaii(Groundhog Day, American Idiot) as Jesus' devoted follower Mary and Alvin Crawford(The Lion King, Candide) as Caiaphas.

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Let's see what the critics are saying!

Natasha Ashley, BroadwayWorld: The new interpretation of the musical makes the audience feel like they are right in the middle of a rock concert. The staging, the lights, the costumes, the choreography, use of hand-held microphones, and the use of instruments allow for of plenty expression from the entire cast. The energy is intoxicating and the choreography by Drew McOnie is refreshing. The new tour is obviously updated, especially visually, and the story itself is quite timeless as well as the rock inspired musical numbers. It is now fifty years since the musical's first performance, but the music still feels modern, edgy, and relevant.

Andrew J. Friedenthal, Austin 360: This rocking, manic, modern take on "Jesus Christ Superstar," helmed by director Timothy Sheader and choreographer Drew McOnie, reclaims the cynicism, desperate questioning and emotional depth of the original 1970 concept album by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. In this version, rather than a feel-good parable about general Christian good will (as many sanitized, anodyne productions of the show have become), we see an epic rock concert gone wrong that has no clear narrative of good or evil, but rather a probing interrogation of the Passion of Jesus that has equal sympathy and scorn for both Jesus and Judas.

Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle: The new North American touring version rises to the challenge by getting back to the concept album's roots, as concert rather than stage play. Building on the acclaimed 2016 revival at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in London, the production fully embraces the atmosphere and accoutrements of the rock show. The major set piece is a runway in the shape of a cross. As a matter of course, the performers sing into handheld and standing mics, with stands frequently doubling as props - standards, spears, even the cross Christ is crucified on. Musical instruments are carried throughout, on which cast members accompany themselves and others. Dozens of high-tech lights illuminate the stage, with drifting fog concentrating diffuse beams into blazing shafts. Glitter becomes the surprising - and shocking - vehicle through which we witness the impact of the 39 lashes on Jesus. Every element of the rock show brings with it the energy we associate with that high-voltage event, and also the sense of celebrity ingrained in it, the mesmerizing allure of the charismatic, the famous, the larger than life.

Joni Lorraine, BroadwayWorld: The focus of this production is on celebrity at a breakneck pace with no intermission to slow it down. Keep that in mind when having a cocktail before the show. This also means the true relationships these characters have with each other gets lost in the melee. The staging and concept isolate the main characters from creating bonds with each other and doesn't help with an already scant narrative. But it's a great story to many, anyway. So famous that most of us can fill in the blanks. As a result, though, I didn't take away much when I left. I felt kind of empty. The opportunity to show us a classic powerful story through the relationship of two, dare I say it, iconic characters, gets lost to the idea of celebrity. Perhaps that's the point, though. And that's really sad.

Linda Hodges, BroadwayWorld: Jesus Christ Superstar is really a modern Passion Play. These dramatic performances of Jesus' final days have been staged since the 13th century and have unwittingly been the source of anti-Semitism through the ages. The task today is to ensure that the portrayal of the Jewish followers of Jesus, especially after Palm Sunday, contributes to a positive understanding of Christianity's Jewish roots.

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