Tuesday, December 03, 2019
Broadway in Tucson Review: "Jesus Christ Superstar"
You can't go wrong with "Jesus Christ Superstar" during Christmas season.
The creative team could be excused for soft-pedaling and hitting the easy marks, well-established by decades of success.
Director Timothy Sheader, however, isn't content with the status quo, and instead adds a fresh take on the classic, injecting it with fresh, vibrant energy that makes it seem as new as it must have during its initial run.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" is peak Andrew Lloyd Webber. Thumping, rhythmic music pulses through the audience, and the performers expend maximum energy, leaving every ounce of their exertion on the floor with beet-faced abandon.
The latest touring production does away with the 70s rock opera aesthetic for a grungier, 1990s mosh pit-style feel. Drew McOnie's raw, charismatic choreography gives the tone a rustic elegance that blends with the aesthetic.
Above all, the refreshed take on the production makes the story Judas's personal story of anguish, divided loyalty and resentful fatalism. James Delisco Beeks commands the show in the role, belting out his songs with the gusto of Aaron Burr in "Hamilton."
Not to be upstaged, topknot-donning Aaron LaVigne thrives in the given lead role, leveling the audience with a rockstar performance that adds a welcome masculinity to the traditionally milquetoast interpretations.
Jenna Rubaii completes the masterful lead trio as Mary, delivering heartbreaking renditions of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "Everything's Alright."
A passion play in both the traditional and emotional senses, the production revitalizes "Jesus Christ Superstar," somehow making the show even better than you remembered with a vigor that could be described as heaven-sent.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" plays through Sunday at Centennial Hall. Buy tickets here.