Review Roundup: Terrence Mann Directed JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
Connecticut Repertory Theatre begins the final show of the 2018 Nutmeg Summer Series: "Jesus Christ Superstar", the iconic rock opera based on the last week of Jesus' life. CRT Nutmeg Summer Series Artistic Director Terrence Mann directs, Christopher d'Amboise choreographs. "Jesus Christ Superstar" stars Alex Prakken (Jesus), Ryan Vona (Judas) and Jonathan Cobrda (Pontius Pilate). Tickets are on sale at crt.uconn.edu or 860-486-2113.
A timeless work, set against the backdrop of an extraordinary and universally-known series of events but seen, unusually, through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. The incredible score featuring well-known songs as "Superstar", "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "Gethsemane", will captivate audiences and have everyone asking what's the buzz?
Director Terrence Mann most recently performed in CRT's "Sweeney Todd". He appeared as the title character in "Jerry Spring: The Opera" off-Broadway this past winter. Most recently, Mann performed on Broadway in "Tuck Everlasting". Other Broadway credits include: "Les Miserables," "Cats," "Barnum," and the Tony winning revival of "Pippin." Mann has performed in several CRT productions, including "My Fair Lady", "Man of La Mancha", "Peter Pan", and "Les Miserables: A Musical Celebration". He also directed CRT Nutmeg Summer Series productions of "1776", "Les Misérables: A Musical Celebration" and "Pirates of Penzance".
Christopher d'Amboise worked closely with George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins as a Principal dancer with New York City Ballet. On Broadway he earned a Tony nomination co-starring with Bernadette Peters in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance. He also appeared in On Your Toes with Leslie Caron. His television appearances include, The Kennedy Center Honors, featured performance for Honoree Jerome Robbins as well as for his father, Jacques d'Amboise. He performed in the Oscar and Emmy-winning documentary He Makes Me Feel Like Dancing as well as in the Jerome Robbins awarding-winning Television Special, Live from Studio 8H.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Joseph Harrison, BroadwayWorld: The creative team behind CRT's JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR make some interesting and, in some cases, inspired choices for this production. Christopher d'Amboise's choreography is some of the most frenetic and physical that this reviewer has seen in a production of SUPERSTAR. It doesn't work all the time, but when it does it brings a new level of enthusiasm and energy to many of the classic numbers. Fan Zheng's costumes work well, in particular the headwear of Caiaphas and Annas and Pilate and Herod's regal gear. Tim Brown's simple set provides the backdrop for the story and is quite effective in creating a sense of flow for the action (the stairs, in particular, work well in this regard). Music Director/Conductor Bryan McAdams and his group of musicians tackle Lloyd Webber's rock score with a high level of skill. Doug Henry's lights punctuate the action well (in particular, back lighting some of the more dramatic moments) and Sound Designer Michael Vincent Skinner does a good job balancing the extreme demands a show like this brings with it. Worth noting is the sonic experience during the crucifixion scene. The sound, a mix of high pitched instruments, moaning of the cast, and Jesus' pleas from the cross, created a disturbing ache that lasted well beyond the end of the show.
Tim Leininger, Journal Inquirer: Another standout performance is Griffin Binnicker as King Herod. Binnicker takes Herod's one song - coincidentally called "King Herod's Song" - and acts out an entire journey and story within the song as he goes from being amused by what he believes are Jesus' parlor tricks to being angry with Jesus for not entertaining him. It is an exceptional performance.
Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant: Still it's nice to see a fully staged "Jesus Christ Superstar." So many productions these days are concert-style with minimal sets and props. Some of Mann's nicer directorial touches are a Leonardo DaVinci-esque Last Supper tableau and a first act ending that turns the villainous croon of "Well done Judas, good old Judas" into an extended creepy-beautiful choral harmony.