BWW Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Gets Stirring Production in Wimberley
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR started out in 1970 as a rock opera concept album with music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The response to the album was so great that a stage version debuted on Broadway in 1971. Like opera, the musical is sung-through, with no spoken dialogue. Loosely based on the Gospels' accounts of the final week of Jesus life, the story begins with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem and ends with the crucifixion. Unlike the narratives in the Bible, the show focuses on the interpersonal and political struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus.
A large portion of the plot centers on Judas, depicting him as a tragic figure who is unhappy with the direction in which Jesus is steering his disciples. The show contains many intentional anachronisms, including slang and ironic allusions to modern life and attitudes.
Director Dr. Josh Miller has staged the piece brilliantly for the Wimberley Playhouse stage, making the most of the space. It was refreshing to see a musical in a small house that was not miked. The set, by Miller, along with Carroll Dolezal and Adam Witko, was both simple and complex, transforming itself with sliding platforms and a market that slid in an out in a flash. On the whole, the set and the scenic changes were very impressive. Bill Peeler's light design was a wonderful mixture of theatrical mood lighting and rock concert blaze. I also enjoyed Aline Bushong's costumes that suggested period and yet had an overall hippie/gypsy quality. Rose Mitchell provided some wonderful choreography that was performed with snap and precision by the company.
Doubling as musical director, Dr. Josh Miller got a wonderful choral sound out of the company that did the iconic work proud. The company, on the whole, was quite marvelous; however, there are some standout performances that deserve individual mention.
Nicholaus Weindel, as Judas Iscariot, and Daniel Cline, as Jesus of Nazareth, worked wonderfully together, both displaying a mixture of charisma and vulnerability. Rachel Hoovler was a charming Mary Magdalene. Zeke Zimmerman was terrific as King Herod with a show stopping tap routine as part of "King Herod's Song". Nick Gollihugh possesses a true rock singing voice that made "Simon Zealotes" a standout number. I also really enjoyed the performances of Tommie Jackson as Caiaphas, Patty King as Annas and Robert Frazier as Pontius Pilate. Special mention must also be given to the three Soul Girls: Vanessa Adragna, Kaila Brinckmann and Alyssa Wells who gave terrific performances.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is an iconic work that has been given a smart and snappy staging by The Wimberley Players. Worth the drive for those who like rock operas and for those who like well done musical theatre.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Lyrics by Tim Rice, Music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber
Running time: 2 hours including one intermission.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, produced by The Wimberley Players (450 Old Kyle Road, Wimberley, TX). Performances run July 08 - July 31, 2016, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30 pm. No late seating. Reserved Seating $23. Students $16 with ID. Reservations: www.wimberleyplayers.org or call the Box Office at 512-847-0575.