WOW, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE— These are all words that come to mind when I think of the recent show I had the privileged to see, “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Avon Theatre. It’s part of one of the MANY great plays at the Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Festival.
I actually heard those descriptive words many times when talking about this production. From the first note to the very last I was amazed.
Before coming to this show I was nervous that I wouldn’t like the music or that I’d be disappointed in how it was presented. You see I’ve listened to the same record/cd all my life of a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and I’m use to it’s sound. But I have to say I was very very pleased with how each part was preformed. Each person added their own style to the songs.
I love the music from this show and usually when I’m listening to my cd I feel like the opening instrumental overture seems really long but today at the Avon theatre I didn’t feel that way at all. All the cast came out dancing, or you could say for the men, fighting but dancing. I wanted to keep just watching that, but I knew the best was still to come, this was only the beginning of an excellent play.
After the opening number came Judas'(Josh Young) song to Jesus giving him a warning of things to come. Josh killed it right off the bat. I knew he would, I LOVED him in Evita last year and couldn’t wait to see him again this year.
Jesus(Paul Nolan) had the next solo of the performance and his rock voice really was perfect for the part. Really I would say this cast was perfectly matched up. Mary (Chillina Kennedy), Pontius Pilate (Breny Carver), King Herod (Bruce Dow) and many more made this show what it was, amazing. There were many recognizable faces in the cast for me as well. Many were in Evita last year and several were also on Canadian Idol.
When I’m singing the music out loud in my car I love the Herod part so much and I hoped it would be great here too. Again I was not disappointed and I laughed the whole way through.
The set and costumes were great too. The set had two levels and many ladders that the cast climbed up and down on. There were two movable staircases that were used all over the stage and at the end there was a platform that went out over the audience that Jesus stood on. Even though the Avon Theatre stage is small it felt so HUGE. There was a scrolling marque that went through the middle(back) of the set that would tell us what day it was in the play and also turned red while Jesus was getting flogged.
I have have to say another things that seems huge was the cast, they way it’s presented you’d think there were 100 members of the cast but there were only around 30 cast members, each one of the ensemble took on several rolls and played each one beautifully.
The costumes were very detailed and really fit each character’s personality. I loved Pilate’s purple “velvet” suit. It made you think he was so royal but it didn’t make you feel like it was taking place back in the 33AD. Oh and the prostitutes and Herod’s crew were really stretched to be confident in what they were wearing, lots of tight clothing and well, I’ll just say “interesting” costumes.
The sound and orchestra were excellent too. I got goose bumps as soon as they started to play. It sounded so much better then the cd.
While sitting during intermission a older women behind me said something I thought was great, “I come to these things year after year and most of the time I can’t understand a word they were singing. These guys are enunciating their words so well, I can understand them and I am able to follow along”. I would have to agree with her. I know this show inside and out but there were still words I never really knew if I was signing correctly. Today I kept saying, “oh so that’s what they were saying”.
After the show Josh Young(Judas) came out and signed autographs. He apologized for not being able to sing as well as he liked because of being sick. In all honesty I didn’t notice it. I did notice he wasn’t singing all the high rock notes that I was use to but I just thought he was putting his own sound to the part. If you were someone who didn’t know the music you wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong/different. Josh was amazing.
If you can make it out to Stratford, ON I would HIGHLY encourage you to check out Jesus Christ Superstar. I want to go again and again and again. Also while you’re here take a walk around town. My friend Aaron and I were there 1.5 hours early and really enjoyed walking down by the river and going into a few shops. There is so much to do in town that you could spend a few days there and not even see it all. Oh and the show must be really good if they can impress Andrew Lloyd Webber. He came to the show Saturday night and loved it. That’s HUGE.
Below is a video review from my friend Aaron. He has a background in musical theatre and loved the show.
Below are a few photos after the show with Josh Young, a photo of me in front of the theatre and a picture of my autographed program & ticket.
Disclaimer- I was given free tickets to this show. I was not asked to write a positive review post. This is my personal/honest opinion. My opinion my differ from yours.