REVIEW; ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Rocks Peace Center in Dazzling 50th Anniversary Edition

BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

The company of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR – photo by Matthew Murphy

Admittedly, Jesus Christ Superstar wasn’t even on my radar for a gleeful theatrical revival experience and I relegated the show as a lesser entry on the Peace Center’s Broadway season.

Brother, was I ever wrong. This 50th anniversary production has traveled from London to spread the gospel of Jesus Chris according to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. I am a believer!

Originally staged by London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and helmed by the acclaimed director Timothy Sheader (Crazy for YouInto the Woods) and award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie (King KongStrictly Ballroom), this production won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival, garnering unprecedented reviews and well-earned accolades.

This production is an ode to the historic 1971 Billboard Album of the Year – now in a limited re-issue – and set in a timeless two-story terrace – the band in the shadows above, a skewed perspective lighted cross platform (Tom Scutt), a spectacular cross light installation (Lee Curran), ever-changing hip-hop inspired biblical costumes and masks (Scutt also), and incredible, fluid movement by award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie (King KongStrictly Ballroom).

This invigorating re-imagining is the miracle by Sheader  and the rock show journey of Jesus, his disciples, betrayal by Judas, and painfully creative torture and crucifixion

Aaron LaVigne (Broadway: Spider-Man. Off-Broadway & National Tour: RENT)

is absolutely divine as the titular leader and inspiring charismatic leader, and guitarist in this version.

Jenna Ruball (originated the role of “Joelle” in the original Broadway cast of Groundhog Day) with a lovely country twang, turns water into wine as Mary Magdalene and a superb “Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”

Judas (Omar Lopez-Cepero) on opneing night was played by understudy Eric A. Lewis, who gave an impassioned marvelous turn as the conflicted traitor.

Jesus Christ Superstar is fresh, alluring and presented with the same understated and imaginative concert rock opera force it was in its original conception some 50 plus years ago.

 is an iconic musical phenomenon with a worldwide fan base. In

Jesus Christ Superstar continues through Sunday, May 1 at the Peace Center in Greenville. Call (864) 467-3000 or visit peacecenter.org.

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