Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, King's Theatre Glasgow

Andrew Lloyd Webber's holy rock opera comes to Glasgow

By: Oct. 18, 2023
Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, King's Theatre Glasgow
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Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, King's Theatre Glasgow The touring version of the acclaimed Regents Park Open Air Theatre production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar comes to Glasgow. After an initial UK (indoor) run at the Barbican, the show toured the US before embarking on this UK tour.

With a cast adorned in long robe-adjacent grey hoodies, this “grungy” take on Superstar directed by Timothy Sheader, very much leans into the rockiness of its rock opera label, in what could be described as a definitive version of the show that doesn’t shy away from the hysteria and brutality of the last days of Christ.

The cast sing the challenging score incredibly well. The belting battles between the likes of Shem Omari James as Judas and Ian McIntosh as Jesus are mesmerising, and Hannah Richardson is enchanting as Mary.

Ryan O’Donnell, Jad Habchi and Matt Bateman revel in their authoritative roles, and Julian Clary makes the most of his few moments in the spotlight as Herod, which the Glasgow audience laps up. It’s a shame the ensemble vocals can’t be fully heard at times on this first night in the Glasgow venue.

Lee Curran’s lighting design is dramatic, flooding the stage in harsh spotlights and warm hues of bronze, framing the cross-shaped industrial set pieces by Tom Scutt. The nightclub-esque neon cross-shaped props are also a nice touch in the temple sequence. It’s great to see the band on stage, under the musical direction of Michael Riley, who deftly deliver the rock-infused score.

Having seen the show previously at its Barbican outing after unfortunately being rained off at Regent’s Park, it is slightly puzzling why the Kings Theatre was booked for this stop on the tour as much of the set feels crowded on the relatively narrow stage, with the cast doing their best to deliver Drew McOnie’s contemporary choreography without bumping into each other.

Much of Lloyd Webber’s score is in irregular metre to keep the pace edgy and unpredictable, however it means the few numbers in regular time can feel overly twee/predictable. Paired with Rice’s witty and wistful lyrics, “Poor Jerusalem” understandably takes on a more sombre feel than usual given the ongoing conflict dominating news headlines.

The stylish creative choices in this production have to be applauded, from Judas’ silver-stained hands to the use of glitter as oils of anointing. With a little more room to breathe, crowds who didn’t get the chance to see this version of the show in the capital can enjoy the spectacle on their doorstep.

Jesus Christ Superstar at King’s Theatre Glasgow until 21 October, then continues on tour

Photo credit: Paul Coltas