THEATRE REVIEW - Jesus Christ Superstar

A scene from Jesus Christ Superstar
A scene from Jesus Christ Superstar
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IT happens. The star of the show is forced to bow out through illness, but there are instances when this matters not a jot because in truth the show itself is the star.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a prime example.

Musicals don’t get bigger and better and more emotional than this religious blockbuster, which has been moving audiences for coming up to 40 years.

The Biblical feast of entertainment has made a welcome return to Manchester Palace theatre, with Rhydian Roberts (white-haired X-Factor constant) in the part of Pontious Pilate. Alas the boy was poorly and had to pull out.

I’d go as far as saying that many folks in the audiences had but distant memories of young Rhydian, and the rock musical – it’s true it’s over-loud at times – suffered little by his absence.

Jesus Christ Superstar is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s greatest-ever collaborations and is always playing somewhere in the world.

It obviously comes under the banner of “entertainment” but that said, there are many moments in the second act which are visually shocking.

The final scene of the crucifixion has such strength and authenticity, it is, for some, unwatchable. This is theatre at its most powerful and memorable.

The show turns the pages of the Bible with a whole range of emotions, and there are moments of comedy, especially in act one. One scene’s as camp as Christmas, while others are amazingly successful in bringing to life the lead up to the astonishing finale.

Glen Carter played Jesus with gripping emotion and Tim Rogers made the part of Judas his own.

Against wonderfully authentic sets, the effective climax when the cross rises from what appears to be a flat stage, it’s impossible not to wince as the nails are driven home.

The years have gone by and yet, the strength and popularity is as strong as ever.

Jesus Christ Superstar plays at the Palace Theatre in Manchester until April 18.