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Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Reboot Theatre

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Reboot Theatre

Now through November 19th

Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Reboot Theatre
Cast of Jesus Christ Superstar at Reboot
Theatre. PC: Colin Madison Photography

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR has long been a mainstay in the musical theater world. Yet, despite its popularity, it is rarely produced outside of large production companies or national tours. Reboot Theater took up the challenge and gives us not only a solid production of this popular show, but also a modern twist. With great acting, some powerhouse vocals, and a clever audio-visual set, this show is one you shouldn't miss.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, the rock opera, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice has been around since 1970 in England, and 1971 in the US. During the five decades of its existence, the show has endured its share of criticism, especially from religious communities. Many struggle with the story being told from Judas's point of view, while others are troubled by the portrayal of the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Very few though have much to offer in criticism for its artistic flair and musical prowess.

Reboot's production and Director Harry Turpin's vision take the concept of the mob and transform it neatly into a media frenzy. The reporers swarm JC begging for quotes and jostling for the best position for photos. It is eerily accurate of how popular personalities are treated today, hounded constantly and their words often taken out of context. The media loves to build the hype, and that is followed closely by the consumerism that exploits popularity with every chance to make a buck. After draining every possible advantage, the media shifts into attack mode and revels in the hero's fall. This concept worked especially well in Act I but was less evident in Act II where many traditional elements of this show seemed to take over. Occasionally the messaging of old and modern were even mixed in the same scene, leaving the audience a bit confused. My favorite modern twists were making Pilate into a modern political candidate and Herod into a media personality, scrambling to maintain followers.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is a show that demands star power, and this production had a few step up to the plate and deliver. Shana E. Emile as Judas had a bit of a slow start, but brought down the house in Act II with her performance of the title track. That number alone was worth the ticket price. David Breyman as Caiaphas brought the eerie evil factor with his subtle but commanding performance. Jordyn Day Palmer's performance as Mary Magdalene was sublime. Her tenderness and care were a sharp contrast to the bigness and loudness of the others and brought balance to the show. Her vocals were delivered with ease and flow and total command. In a show with such intensity, the audience needs a little break, and Natalie Moe brought the humor and charm in her performance as Herod. Not only was her number entertaining, but it also included some fantastic dancing. Jasmine Joshua as Pilate brought humanity to a character that often comes across as a detached and uncaring figurehead. With great presence and strong vocals, Pilate commanded the stage whenever present. Kristie Werner as Simon gave us a nuanced depiction of a follower that goes from captivated to confused to disenchanted. William Douglas Johnson portrayal of Jesus was one of a man caught up in circumstances rather than one controlling them. I especially enjoyed seeing him playing the guitar like the Pied Piper leading his adoring fans.

The other stars of this show were Grant Boling and Andrew Croll (video engineers) Brendan Mack (Tech Magician), Bruce Hart (A/V Lead), and Noel Pederson-Walker (Graphics Lead). This team put together videos and used multiple screens to create a frenzy of media. In other scenes, they continued to use the screens to enhance the storytelling with visuals. Their work enabled to show to have a variety of backdrops and settings without having to move a single item on or off stage. To say it worked well in this small space would be a huge understatement.

Reboot Theatre's production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is a new look at an old story. This show proves that with a bit of creativity and a strong cast and creative team, even monumental shows can be accessible to small theater companies. The best part of this is that it also makes it accessible and affordable to a wider audience. Kudos to Reboot for taking on this juggernaut of a show and giving us all a taste of big theater in a small space.




From This Author - Kelly Rogers Flynt

Born and educated in the South, Kelly Rogers Flynt has happily transitioned to life in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys more rain and fewer mosquitos. She works as a director, choreographer,&... (read more about this author)


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