The thing about any open air theatre is that if it rains it makes for a dangerous stage, and thus a cancelled show. This is exactly what happened to us when I went with my family to Regents Park Open Air Theatre three weeks ago. Luckily we exchanged our tickets for another night and tried again, this time with success! And wow it was worth the wait – not only was it a gorgeous sunny evening but we got to see the first 20 minutes twice!
The musical of Jesus Christ Superstar has some obvious stand-out characters, and for me the superstars of this production were Declan Bennett and Tyrone Huntley, playing Jesus and Judas respectively. These two had very different singing styles, but this was great to emphasise their opposing characters. I have seen Declan before, the first time I saw Once (which I have reviewed before), and this was a different style but still just as good! And Tyrone blew me away with his vocals from the very beginning. I don’t think I can fully express how impressed I was with both of these performers. David Thaxton’s performance of Pilate was also impressive, and very brave playing an electric guitar in the rain!
The choreography throughout this show impressed me a lot – I found myself watching the ensemble group and their dancing quite a lot. Sometimes it was full of intricacies and details, other times simple and repetitive (but effective!). It was especially powerful when combined with the production’s use of colour: bright hand flares, gold glitter during the whipping of Jesus (gah, this was so good to watch!), and (my favourite) Judas’ silver hands when he receives the “blood money” of his betrayal. I loved it!
One of the most memorable parts for me was Caiaphas and his priests. They were both funny and captivating, and even though I saw their debut scene twice (thanks to the rain) it still managed to make me laugh the second time around. The only thing that let me down with this production was the death of Judas. It was rather underwhelming for me. I think there could have been a better use of lighting and space to create more tension and impact for the audience.
I can’t write this review without commentating on the wonderful theatre in which the show was performed: Regents Park Open Air Theatre. It is more equipped and more comfortable than I expected – both the seats and facilities.
So a fun and emotional musical with catchy songs – I loved it!
(Oh, and ya know, Andrew Lloyd Webber was at the same performance as us..!!)
(I would apologise for any spoilers in this review but it’s a 2000-year old story and a 45 year-old musical so is it even possible to give away any spoilers anymore??)
All photos from: https://openairtheatre.com/production/jesus-christ-superstar