Review: Jesus Christ Superstar
Confession time. We'd already seen Jesus Christ Superstar. Three years ago, in fact, when Andrew Lloyd Webber decided that his musical version of the greatest story ever told required a modern, arena-sized makeover. We remember well.
Gone were the sandals, gowns and tree leaves; in their place, a team of riot police, tent-town protesters and a handsome, edgy urban warrior who called himself JC. Melanie C was in it; so, too, was the awesome Tim Minchin.
Christ (excuse us), even Chris Moyles got in on the action, with the eccentric King Herod reinvented as a modern game show host. It was bonkers, but it worked; the cast and contemporary theme serving as something of a neat distraction from the actual tunes.
Alas, directors Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright have roped us back into the olden days here (1971 or 33AD, depending on your outlook) with a cheap and charmless production so catastrophically dull and lightweight, you actually look forward to (spoiler alert) the crucifixion.
It's all about the last week in Jesus Christ's life, right? So, you know, Judas throws his toys out of the pram and gives up the Big Fella to the authorities, with Pontius Pilate reluctantly sentencing our boy to death for having the gall to spread smiles and giggles. Appalling stuff.
In all seriousness, if JCS's aim is to have its audience side with Judas, then it's done a stand-up job - that's how bad Glenn Carter's smug, wig-wearing, wreck-the-head Jesus is.
Saying that, Tim Rogers (Judas) can barely get through a song of his own without hitting a bum note, Rachel Adedeji's Mary Magdalene looks lost and Rhydian Roberts (Pilate) might as well be sleepwalking up there. Some of them overdo it, others barely try - not a good mix, I'm afraid.
Granted, Webber wasn't helping anyone with the material. Lyricist Tim Rice deserves some of the blame, too.
A complex, over-written, soul-destroying rock opera, JCS is a relentless piece of work, its songs falling somewhere in the region of the Good-God-what-were-you-thinking range (Carter's falsetto is hysterical).
The set was clearly an afterthought. The supporting players shuffle about like lifeless marionettes. This could be a secondary school show, for all we know. Any and all attempts to entertain are quashed by the unintentionally hilarious Carter (who has done this a million time before, we believe) and a tuneless Rogers, who take themselves way too seriously.
"I don't know how to love him," sings Mary (we honestly don't know who she's referring to). By the time the lads stick Jesus on that big cross, we're wrecked. Please, don't come back, Big Man. You've had your Second Coming. Enough is enough.
Ends February 14 HHIII