Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Robinson Center

This Andrew Lloyd Webber classic transforms Central Arkansas March 1-3

By: Mar. 04, 2024
Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Robinson Center
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Arkansas is blessed to have a bustling theatrical community, so much so that it is impossible for one writer to cover it all. I am thankful for Celebrity Attractions for bring these Wonderful Productions, and that I have talented friends to help me out! Please welcome our Guest Writer to the Broadway World family, Dakota Mansfield!

Article written by Dakota Mansfield

It's always a joy to get to see Broadway National Tour shows here in LIttle Rock! There's
something magical about The Robinson Center, 426 West Markham St., in Little Rock, that never fails to bring you the hustle and bustle of the New York theatre experience right here in our own riverside backyard. When I sat down in my seat for JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, I was instantly captivated by that feeling all theatre goers know and love. The hive mind excitement as we all sit anxiously staring at the angel curtain that separates us from the world on stage. The band started to warm up, and as the lights went out, the curtain rose, and the Overture started, the audience fell silent and the room was transformed.

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Robinson Center
Jack Hopewell and Elvie Ellis in the North American Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Jesus Christ Superstar is a sung-through rock opera loosely based on the Gospels’ Accounts of the Passion. The show digs a little deeper than that by interpreting the psychology of Jesus and his disciples. With a good deal of the plot being seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot, who is increasingly dissatisfied with the direction that Jesus has decided to take he and the other disciples down. It uses modern slang, and anachronisms to help the audiences connect with the piece. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, this show has many peaks and valleys that take you on a journey both musically and visually stunning.

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Robinson Center
Erich W. Schleck in the North American Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

First I’d like to talk about the set, the costumes, and the concept with this show. I have never seen Jesus Christ Superstar (I had heard the music as I am a very huge Webber fan), so I went into the show knowing only the basic understanding of the story line. When the main curtain rose to reveal a giant cross and what seemed to look like a modern day street scene in Jerusalem, I was in awe! I specifically loved their use of the set to conceal the band on stage with them. The set design, which was based on the original design by Tom Scutt, was huge in bringing us into the world and knowing what we were getting into. The costumes, also designed by Tom Scutt, was impeccable and gave us a unique spin on classic biblical costumes. I particularly loved King Herod’s costuming. I would wear that out on a regular basis! With the concept, I really loved the use of live handheld mics and mic stands. We are all used to the ear cuffed mics or the hairline mics, but since this is a rock opera, I loved their use of “rock band” materials. Using a speaker stand and mic stands for the cross was especially clever and was stunning visually.

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Robinson Center
 Isaac Ryckeghem and Kodiak Thompson in the North American Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

I love the story telling in this show. If you aren’t used to sung-through shows, sometimes it can be hard to get the subtle things within the story. The cast of this show did an incredible job with that. They way they used their voices, body language, and facial expressions…the story was well rounded and beautiful. Elvie Ellis (Judas) is one of those performers who leaves you wondering “how the heck did they just do that?”. His range alone is enough, but the tonality and dynamics with the way he uses his voice leaves chills down your spine! Every time he opened his mouth the theatre was left speechless and awestruck. I cannot rave about them enough! Jack Hopwell (Jesus) was another that just has a way of performing that can’t be taught. The subtlety he held when in sadness, and the emotions he took us through. Just incredible. These two are far beyond professional in my opinion. Other favorites were Alex Stone (Pilate), Jaden Dominique (Mary), and Grant Hodges (Caiaphas).

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Robinson Center
Jack Hopewell in the North American Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Directed by Timothy Sheader and Choreographed by Drew McOnie, “Jesus Christ Superstar” was an incredible piece of theatre that intertwined dance, music, set, and costumes to tell a timeless tale in a modern way. The dancing was unlike any I’ve seen before, and the teamwork that was used to put this show together complimented each other so well. If you ever have a chance to see this tour again, I recommend getting tickets the moment you can! We are so lucky to have a Broadway Tour House here in LIttle Rock! I cannot wait for the next show!

Next up, Celebrity Attractions brings SHREK THE MUSICAL to Robinson Center. For ticket information, visit their website at https://www.celebrityattractions.com.

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Robinson Center




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