Superstar on Broadway

Last night, I went to see the Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar; I give it 3.5 stars.

There was nothing new or different about this production, and the cast is all unknowns. (I would take the time to look up their names, but I’m lazy.) A rundown:

This production seems determined to play up the Judas-Jesus-Mary love triangle (altering the score slightly to do so—for example, Judas sings Peter’s lines at the end of “Could We Start Again Please?” which got a rise out of my theater companion, and not in a good way.) The three actors are on stage together frequently. None of them have much chemistry with each other, which I think is why the production is like, “LOVE TRIANGLE, GEDDIT?!” so much.

The guy playing Jesus was a little flat for me. In terms of affect, I mean. He came across not so much as “serene” as “asleep” in some scenes. Also, that part requires some vocal acrobatics for which this actor was not up to the task; he screamed his way through “Gethsemane,” which was not so great.

Mary was kind of aggressive. The actress did this weird pigeon head-bob thing when she was trying to make a point through song, so when she tells Jesus not to worry, it seems like she’s yelling at him rather than trying to soothe him. So that was a little weird.

There was an understudy Herod who opted to play the part super gay, which is… a choice. Actually, I liked “Herod’s Song,” it was probably the splashiest number in the production.

The ensemble was pretty great, too, but I would have liked to see more dancing. There was a lot of just standing on stage and singing. (Also a lot of Les Miz-style marching across the stage. Kind of expected them to break out into, “Do You Hear the People Sing?”)

I did think the guy playing Judas was pretty fantastic, though. Great voice, a tendency toward scene-chewing in a way the part requires. Unfortunately, “Superstar” lacked the glitter and panache it really requires (largely because of bland staging and costuming) and that was my one great disappointment with the show. The consequence is that the whole last twenty minutes of the musical end up being super anticlimactic.

Summary: this is one of my favorite musicals ever, so I’m being especially nit-picky.  Overall, it was fine and enjoyable but not spectacular.