“Jesus Christ Superstar” is out on the road celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic rock opera with a lean, mean production that is playing at the Fox Theatre through May 21.
There is a glitz and gloss to the full-on Broadway production that always struck me as a little silly, especially considering how edgy and controversial the show was originally; existing first only as a double-album before it was ever staged.
This version of “Superstar” reclaims that gritty origin, running 90 minutes with no intermission and with a stripped-down set design that plays more to the rock-concert vibe than a full-on theatrical production.
The story, for those of you who were truant from Sunday school, is ripped right out of the Gospels and traces the story of Jesus (Jack Hopewell) from his entry into Jerusalem to his crucifixion.
While Jesus is the superstar of the show, the heart of the musical is Judas (Elvie Ellis) whose inner conflict about the direction of Jesus’ ministry eventually leads to his betrayal. Lin-Manuel Miranda borrowed the dynamic of Jesus and Judas for “Hamilton” as the part of Aaron Burr is as prominent if not more so than Alexander Hamilton.
Rounding out the cast is Mary Magdalene (Faith Jones), high priest Caiaphas (Grant Hodges, who belts out the bass) and Roman governor Pilate (Nicholas Hambruch).
Because the production moves quickly from song to song, there is an urgency and energy to the show that’s also reflected in the choreography. And while some of the interpretive dance feels distractingly extra at times, the show gives you as much to look at as it does to listen to.
This is the best production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” that I have ever seen and its shorter presentation only makes it stronger and more impactful. If you want to see an iconic show at its best, this is your chance.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is now playing at the Fox Threatre now through May 21. For tickets call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.