Broadway Across Canada’s Jesus Christ Superstar’s details are lost in the noise

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I’m going to start this review with a confession. I don’t know the storyline for Jesus Christ Superstar and all that I know about it is the main song. That’s it. I walked into Broadway Across Canada’s production this past week, completely blind but knowing that this production got rave reviews in London and there is talk about it going on Broadway for a limited run.

It’s too bad that for most of the performance I couldn’t hear any of the lyrics and the orchestra was often louder than the voices. Artists were screaming the lyrics which made the songs off key. Opening night had these particular struggles and I hope they were rectified during the run.

The musical is a sung through rock opera, which means that hearing the lyrics is really important to following the story. I understood the overall story of the musical, but was missing Tim Rice’s rich lyrics and didn’t feel like I could appreciate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music.

Jack Hopewell’s Jesus was not quite as intense as he could have been and Elvie Ellis’ Judas was a bit off key on opening night. But overall the choreography and dancing had so much energy, especially performer Caroline Perry as the mob leader. Faith Jones as Mary manages to push through the music with a sweet voice and the pure lyrics of her song was uplifting. Isaac Ryckeghem is nothing but strength as Caiaphas.

The staging and set design of the production are innovative, with the band tucked away, but still visible on the set designed by Tom Scutt. The stage moves and allows the scenes to change dramatically, while the musical still progresses. The scene of the last supper is really amazing and all of the cast freezes so that the scene looks like a painting.

The production is exciting and energetic but the music drowning out the voices left me feeling like I missed most of the musical. It felt like a grand Broadway show, but was missing the details, that are really important in a production like this.

Broadway Across Canada’s next production is Fiddler on the Roof. More information is available online.

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