Many a musical has attempted to belt its way to immortality. Still, few have come as close to achieving it as Jesus Christ Superstar, the Vatican-blessed rock opera by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Closing in the West End after a record-breaking 3358 West End performances, director Timothy Sheader’s Olivier Award-winning revival continued to enrapture new audiences at the Edinburgh Playhouse after a successful international tour.
Opening with that now iconic overture, each member of the seven-piece band has risen from the orchestral pit to the heights of the scaffolded set. Descending the crucifix catwalk (yes, really), Shem Omari James gives his stellar rendition of Heaven on their Minds as Judas. Laying the groundwork for the epic story that unfolds over the next two hours: the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ, played by the dynamic Ian McIntosh.
McIntosh is supported by a versatile and talented ensemble that seamlessly blends Drew McOnie’s unique choreography with solid vocals. Standout performances of the night go to Jed Habachi for his impressive range as Caiphas and Hannah Richardson’s captivating solo as Mary in I Don’t Know How to Love Him.
The versatility extends to prop and set design, with handheld microphones cleverly doubling as sceptres in the campy numbers sung by the High Priests, denoting power struggles between Mary and Judas, and even acting as a noose at one point. Along with the industrial lighting and instrument case steps, designers Tom Scutt and Lee Curran have captured the feeling of being backstage at a concert in the set – and the audience has an all-access pass.
Costume designer Poppy Hall and makeup supervisor Giuseppe Cannas lean into the musical’s fifty-something-year-old history, regressing from modern utilitarian costume (think grey hoodies and matching sweatpants) to glitter, glam rock and disco-inspired outfits as the show traverses to its dark and tragic end.
The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s unmissable production of Jesus Christ Superstar is on at the Edinburgh Playhouse from 6th – 10th February 2024. Musical lovers should quickly snap up the remaining tickets (starting at £13.00). There’s unlikely to be a second coming.