Review – Jesus Christ Superstar, Barbican Theatre

Friday 26 July 2019

Well yes. Time to fess up. This was our fifth visit to this Regent’s Park production of JesusChrist Superstar. Though only (only?) the third time we actually got to see the show. Our first visit was cancelled due to a power failure and another cancelled due to inclemency.

No chances of the latter now that the show’s moved inside the concrete bunker that is the Barbican Theatre. And if it loses something by not being outside it is only the natural gathering gloom of night creeping up on the show. But it also means that Lee Curran’s busily snazzy lighting is effective from the off. The palette is of gold and greys, sometimes at the same time. And to remind us it once lived in a park, Tom Scutt ‘s design has brought in a couple of trees to soften the weight of his industrial girder set which actually looks even better confined on this stage.

Even the staunchest athiests must be fairly familiar with the plot so we won’t bother you with too much detail and assume there is no need for spoiler alerts. We loved it in the park and we still love it now.

Robert Tripolino‘s Christ may at first appear to be a bit too weedy to create such a sensation among the masses but then when did we ever get the leaders we expect? Tripolino’s gentle approach lulls us into a false sense of security so when he lets rip in the Garden of Gesthamane in Act 2 it’s quite something. And even our religious cynicism didn’t prevent us feeling moved during the crucifixion.

Ricardo Alfonso has the impossible task of filling Tyrone Huntley’s shoes as Judas but he does so brilliantly. The show may be named after Christ but the deuteragonist is the real star. Judas was always the better role. And if you had any doubts about TV talent shows being effective routes to stage success take a look at X Factor winner Matt Cardle, he makes quite an impact in his brief turn as Pilate (if you can ignore his illustrated arms – Phil can’t). Contrarily The Voice‘s Samuel Buttery‘s Herod may make a stunning entrance in gold lamé and made up to remind us of Leigh Bowery but he fails to get Tim Rice’s lyrics over clearly enough to provide any comic relief. Fortunately Phil knows the words. Regular visitors to these pages may remember that Phil once typed out the entire libretto on his sister’s typewriter. Other peculiar things about Phil and JCS can be read here.

There was something about Mary (Sallay Garnett) we didn’t really warm to but we loved the fabulously gravelly-voiced Caiaphas from Cavin Cornwall and Nathan Amzi as his sidekick Annas elicited our hosannas. Drew McOnie‘s exhaustingly brilliant choreography looks even better and tighter than ever. The ensemble must take credit for delivering it so exuberantly.

With Evita as the Park’s musical offering this year that’ll make five Andrew Lloyd Webber shows on in London. He’s having rather a good year. Judging by the awful trailer all that may come to an abrupt end when the Cats movie opens this Christmas.

As for JCS, we’d go again in a shot so it can only be…



2 Responses to “Review – Jesus Christ Superstar, Barbican Theatre”

  1. […] Review – Jesus Christ Superstar, Barbican Theatre […]

  2. […] are held concert-style as in the Park’s terrific production of Jesus Christ Superstar and if you have Phil’s phobia for on-stage balloonery we must warn you that inflated rubber […]

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