Hi Guys! Long time no review, I hope that everyone is holding up okay during these stressful times. As a result of COVID, it means theatres have been unable to put on performances but there is a silver lining, it was announced that outdoor performances were allowed to go ahead so the team at Regents Park banded together and were able to organize a 90-minute concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar to perform this summer season. The performance itself was incredible! An amazing way to come back to the theatre!
The COVID-19 safety aspect to it all was incredibly well done, your temperature was checked upon arrival to the venue and you had to wear a mask all the time you were in the venue. There were lots of hands sanitizing stations throughout. Inside the actual theatre, there were two sets of seats on either side of each party and an empty row in front and behind you so you were never breaking socially distancing rules. The staging of the show was also done socially distanced, despite this staging it didn’t break up the performance in any way.
This was my first experience with this wonderful show. The music was very rock inspired which gave me RENT and at time Evita vibes (Hardly surprising when Evita was written by the same team as JCS). Every one of these amazing performers was singing and dancing like there was no tomorrow. The staging was very similar to last years Evita, simple staging and clothing but great dancing and uses of light.
First, we have Declan Bennett as the main man himself, Jesus. He was such a good performer! His vocals were amazing as well as his stage presence, you knew he was going to be a great performer from the start. He had a great onstage rivalry with Tyrone, all of their scenes were tense and he also had great stage time with Maimuna who played Mary. I think one of my favourite Declan moments has got to be one of the biggest songs from the soundtrack Gethsemane which is the big song Jesus sings in the second act; his vocals were so strong and s powerful that at this moment no one in the audience was making any sound, we were all focused on him and his incredible vocals. I also was amazed at how well he acted during the crucifixion scene at the end. Overall I thought Declan was amazing in this role, a true performer.
Next up we have Tyrone Huntley who plays the role of Judas. His voice was insane! So smooth yet so raw. He was certainly the standout performance for me. The story follows Judas just as much if not slightly more than it follows Jesus. Tyrone had the same amount of stage presence as well, you knew you were going to be in for a treat. I think one of my favourite Judas moments has got to be the ‘Blood Money’ scene not only was the staging of it being amazing but Tyrone’s performance was memorable. Tyrone played amazingly against Declan’s Jesus. There was so much grit and sass between them in the big scenes. Overall I thought Tyrone was a really amazing performer and that his Judas was memorable.
Following Tyrone, we have Maimuna as Mary, whilst only really on stage around a third of the performance I really enjoyed any moment of Maimuna’s Mary where we got to see her shine. She has such a unique and raw/raspy voice which is so distinctive. Before the show, I only knew the chorus of the title song and the song ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ so when it came on I was really intrigued to see it with context and really excited to hear something other than the Glee version which is where I heard it. Maimuna gave an incredible performance of the song both vocally and with her acting ability. I also enjoyed the song ‘Everything’s Alright ‘ which I didn’t know prior. Although social distancing kept them from interacting closely I liked her scenes with Declan and wonder if they didn’t have to distance how their scenes would have changed. Overall I really enjoyed Maimuna as Mary and wonder what she will move onto next.
Following Maimuna we have the character of Peter played by Phil King. Peter was one of the disciples who later went on to betray Jesus later on in the story/ Phil had quite a few songs throughout the show which I really enjoyed. His main ones being ‘The Arrest’ and ‘Peters Denial’ in at 2. Both of these were done really well and performed amazingly.I thought Phil did a really great job in this small yet major role.
Next, we have Ivan De Freitas as Caiaphas. I really liked seeing Ivan in this role after seeing him as Jafar in Aladdin last summer; it was really nice to see him again, this time in a more serious role. Caiaphas is the high priest of Israel who concludes that Jesus must be killed for the greater good in the song ‘This Jesus Must Die’ in which Ivan had the chance to show off his deep vocal range which suited the role of Caiaphas really really well.
Moving onto David Thaxton as Pilate. I had seen David previously as the Phantom when he had his short run, which was obviously a very different role to Pilate vocally. I thought David did an amazing job with his harsh score. I really enjoyed David’s authority on stage amongst everyone else. Pilate was the Roman Governor who was responsible for doling out punishment and was the one who gave Jesus the 39 lashes. I really enjoyed the Pilate narrative throughout that song. The staging was really clever and David performed it incredibly well as well as his song earlier where he and Declan meet for the first time. Overall I think David did an amazing job in this role
Next, we have Shaq Taylor as Herod whilst Herod was only in one song, it was the grooviest song on the score, it had everyone laughing along in an otherwise heavy musical. This was a really fun role and Shaq did a really good job with the humour of it and bringing smiles to peoples faces.
Finally, I have to give it up to the amazing ensemble, this was a big ensemble with lots of diversity throughout but all of them were amazing to watch and all of them were so incredibly talented and were the lifeblood of this show.
Top 5 Moments
- The Lashings: I think this was really well done, to simulate the lashings they had Genesis Lynea throwing glitter over him whilst Ivan was cracking on a bit of wood for the sound whilst David was counting to 39, I know that doesn’t sound like much but in the show, it is amazing and really well done.
- The Masks: When the show first starts up, all the ensemble come out and dance with cloth masks on that match their costumes, but at the end of their dancing all the cast are on stage in masks and they all rip and throw down their masks on the floor, it was a really powerful moment that made me feel really goosebumpy
- The Guilt: When Judas betrays Jesus in the song ‘Blood Money’ he opened the chest of money and dipped his hands into it, his hands came out all covered in silver glitter makeup which symbolized the guilt Judas had over betraying Jesus.
- Gethsemane: I thought this was a really amazing vocal moment from Declan which was incredible to hear live
- Everything’s Alright: This was a really sweet song in the score and a really sweet moment between Jesus and Mary.
Overall this was a really really fun way of coming back to Theatre, the production was incredible and reminded me how much I had missed seeing live theatre – nothing beats it. Everybody in this show were amazing performers and it truly exceeded my expectations of what it was going to be like!