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Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Shines at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Shines at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

The glitzy and controversial show takes the spotlight at Edmonton's Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

Since the 1970 release of its sensational concept album, Jesus Christ Superstar has dazzled audiences across the globe and become one of the most performed musicals in history. After its 1971 Broadway opening, the production went on to enjoy countless touring productions, revivals, and adaptations including a 1973 film and televised 2018 staging. 51 years later, the glitzy and controversial show takes the spotlight at Edmonton's Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

The curtain rises on an onstage band that kickstarts the show with a dynamic rendition of the energetic overture. The formidable set is revealed, showcasing a cross-shaped onstage catwalk and a row of towering balconies. Lee Curran's lighting design of golds, reds, and blues contrasts with the otherwise dark production, giving the re-imagined Biblical scenes a striking appearance. The streetwear-clad dance ensemble embodies everything from desperation to fervent adoration as Jesus (Jack Hopewell) heals onlookers' various ailments and grapples with the looming fate of his crucifixion. Though the streetwear is initially jarring, it is gradually overlooked in favour of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's electrifying score and the characters' plights.

As Jesus, Jack Hopewell showcases impressive vocals including an electrifying falsetto. Despite resembling a modern hipster more than a traditional depiction of Jesus, Hopewell's believable portrayal is filled with quiet strength and vulnerability. His emotionally fraught solo, Gethsemane, is a showstopper and one of the show's most powerful scenes. Hopewell leads a superb cast of other triple-threat performers including Elvie Ellis as disciple-turned betrayer Judas and Faith Jones as the loyal Mary Magdalene. Though Jesus is the central character, Judas's and Mary Magdalene's perspectives are both portrayed. The audience witnesses Judas's turmoil (and later silver-stained hands) as he betrays Jesus to Herod (Erich W. Schleck) and sees Mary's devotion during Jones' stirring rendition of I Don't Know How to Love Him. Other notable moments include Schleck's campy performance of Herod's Song and the explosive ensemble number, Jesus Christ Superstar.

Despite inexplicable elements such as modern costumes and glitter flying during Jesus's torture, the production brims with jaw-dropping talent and no shortage of catchy tunes. It is easy to get swept up in this 90-minute rock spectacle and its cast and musicians' energy.

Jesus Christ Superstar plays at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium until November 13.

Photo by Matthew Murphy



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