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"Jesus Christ Superstar" by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber Is Revived at the Neil Simon Theatre
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"Jesus Christ Superstar" by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber Is Revived at the Neil Simon Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights



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877 8th Ave. (Btw. 52-53 Sts.)
NY, NY 10019
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The Dodgers and The Really Useful Group
et al.
Present the:
Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Production of:

Jesus Christ Superstar
(Jesus Christ Superstar Website)

Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Directed by Des McAnuff

At the
Neil Simon Theatre
250 West 52nd Street
NY, NY
877.250.2929

With:
Paul Nolan, Josh Young, Chilina Kennedy
Tom Hewitt, Bruce Dow, Marcus Nance, Aaron Walpole

And an ensemble of singers/actors/dancers

Choreography: Lisa Shriver
Music Direction and Supervision: Rick Fox
Scenic Design: Robert Brill
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Costume Design: Paul Tazewell
NY Casting: Tara Rubin Casting
Sound Design: Steve Canyon Kennedy
Video Design: Sean Nieuwenhuis
Fight Director: Daniel Levinson
Stunt Coordinator: Simon Fon
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Production Stage Manager: Frank Hartenstein
Company Manager: Kimberly Kelley
Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatricals
Assoc. Producers: Lauren Mitchell Nederlander Presentations, Inc.
Press Agent: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Promotions: Red Rising Marketing
Exec. Producer: Sally Campbell Morse


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 28, 2012


I had not seen this Tim Rice – Andrew Lloyd Webber show previously and have no need to see it again. In a shrieking, grotesque series of vignettes, Jesus Christ (Paul Nolan) suffers through his last few days in the throes of contemporary electric rock, blaring yellow lights, excruciating whipping against his back, the kiss of betrayal, and the rest is well known. Half way into this play I almost would have preferred to be at the dentist. The noise was not gorgeous gospel, like Sister Act, but, rather, pumped up atonal blasts of nothing. The one “saving grace” of this rock musical was listening to Josh Young’s (as Judas Iscariot) “Heaven on Their Minds” and “Superstar”. Mr. Young is truly a rising star with vocal purity and power. He magnetizes the eye and makes the show quasi bearable. Mr. Nolan, au contraire, while attractive and suited to the lead, sings in high pitch, too tenor in the midst of rock.

Robert Brill’s scenery is responsible for the blaring lights (also thanks to Howell Binkley, who’s usually on target), plus a giant lit calendar that counts down the days to Jesus’ demise. The tension is thick, as the heavy crown of thorns, Jesus’ red rivers of flogging marks, and the heavy cross that Jesus drags about the stage, plus ladders and ropes that pull Jesus up on the crucifix, all make for a dreadful musical experience. Bruce Dow, as King Herod, is evil incarnate, and Tom Hewitt as Pontius Pilate mainly wandered about in the center of the storm. Chilina Kennedy is Mary Magdalene, and, like Mr. Nolan, was outshone and overwhelmed by the torrential sound mixed with Mr. Young’s reverberating solos. Mary’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” was genuinely lovely, but immediately forgettable. Jesus’ “Gethsemane” and “Crucifixion”, as well, didn’t play for days, hours, or seconds in my mind.

The Chorus of actors/singers/dancers as apostles and villagers was interesting to observe, especially when it surrounded the Last Supper and sang that title song. Yet, again, its singing of “39 Lashes” made by blood boil. All the anger and hate on this stage was not harnessed into a broadly inspirational event, like the crowds in Les Miserables or the riot in Billy Elliot. Paul Tazewell’s costumes were over the top, like bright red and purple for Herod and Pilate and shiny gold leotards for the male ensemble, or otherwise gym togs. Des McAnuff has directed for rowdy, cacophonous results. The potential poignancy could not shine through blinding lights and noise. Lisa Shriver’s choreography looked like a Saturday Night Live hip hop skit. Kudos to the Stunt Coordinator, as nobody onstage seemed to get hurt.



















For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net