Neil Simon Theatre
March 31, 2012 matinee
Currently playing at the Neil Simon Theatre is the 2012 revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, a rock opera which depicts the final week of Jesus Christ’s life through the unique perspective of Judas Iscariot. Completely sung-through, Jesus Christ Superstar is a modern interpretation of the crucifixion boasting a powerful score with a 1970‘s “feel”. As rumors of a possible July 1st closing date surface, I’d like to briefly remind theatre-goers of all the wonderful aspects of this production, which opened on March 22, 2012.
At the heart of this production is its powerful score, which demands the incredible vocal talent and range of Paul Nolan (Jesus) and Jeremy Kushnier (u/s Judas). If you want to be impressed by amazing vocals, look no further than these two talented men.
Paul Nolan was perfectly cast as Jesus Christ. He portrayed Jesus with more intensity and uncertainty than I had expected, with a sense of calm and thoughtfulness that alternated with torture and conflict. When he was on stage, I temporarily believed that he was Jesus Christ. Why didn’t he receive a Tony nomination????
Jeremy Kushnier did a wonderful job of portraying the jealousy and conflict within Judas, and dare I say, made him more human to the audience. Between his stellar acting and insanely incredible vocals, I would have to say that Jeremy Kushnier is one of the best understudies I’ve ever seen perform.
Chilina Kennedy was a quiet but strong presence on the stage as Mary Magdalene. Her sweet and simple voice was ideal for the 1970’s folk style songs, “Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”. I thought there was great emotional chemistry between her character and Paul Nolan’s Jesus.
And while the score is generally upbeat and even comical at times (most notably in “King Herod’s Song” sung by the very funny Bruce Dow), the production succeeds at portraying the emotional gravity of the story. During the crucifixion scene, the sniffling of a tearful audience could be heard throughout the theatre. At the conclusion of the show, audience members leapt to their feet, cheering “Bravo”, and giving a standing ovation.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a must-see for all theatre fans. Get your tickets now!