THEATRE REVIEW: Jesus Christ Superstar at Royal & Derngate

Jesus Christ Superstar is currently showing at Royal & Derngate
Jesus Christ Superstar is currently showing at Royal & Derngate

Since it was first devised by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1970, Jesus Christ Superstar has been resurrected more than any other musical in history.

Battling against this sense of over-familiarity, a touring version of the show, currently showing at Royal & Derngate, was always going to struggle to bring anything fresh and new to the production.

From the first two songs it is clear that Tim Rogers, (Judas) and Glenn Carter (Jesus) are having trouble making their voices heard over the booming sound track.

Songs such as Heaven on Their Minds and Gethsemane require an almost superhuman vocal range that, at times, seemed way out of the comfort zones of Rogers and Carter.

During the scene when Jesus throws out all the merchants and money lenders from the temple, Carter sings ‘get out’ in a note so high it would have pricked the ears of most of the dogs back in Northampton.

The performers are not helped by a static set design and formulaic lighting that fail to add much excitement to proceedings.

Perhaps the real saviour of this production of Jesus Christ Superstar was Jodie Steele, a late stand-in for X Factor finalist Rachel Adedeji as Mary Magdalene.

It certainly helps that she is given the two of the best songs in the show, but Steele, showcases her melodic, crystal-clear singing voice to perfection during a moving performance of I Don’t How to Love Him.

Pain etched across her face during an affecting rendition of Could We Start Again Please, Steele also shows up the slightly ‘going through the motions’ acting performances of her colleagues.

A positive mention should also go to the hugely enjoyable Barry White-esque, deep, bass voice of Cavin Cornwall, playing the part of Caiaphas.

Fans of Llloyd-Webber and Rice’s work will undoubtedly find this a competent, functional performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. But, for people like me who had never previously seen this musical, I can’t say I will be rushing back to watch this show.

Jesus Christ Superstar is at Royal & Derngate until Saturday. To book tickets go to www.royalandderngate.co.uk