Musical that whips up emotions with touch of the X Factor

DIANA ECCLESTON took the tram to Wimbledon to review the latest coming of a “juggernaut” of a Lloyd-Webber-Rice musical

Jesus Christ Superstar has been beguiling audiences for more than 40 years and is one of the most popular in the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice catalogue.


Superstar: Glenn Carter in the title role he has performed for more than a decade

Surely it must appeal primarily to people with religious belief?

Even though I do not share those beliefs, I still enjoy the complex and often uplifting score and appreciate this juggernaut of a musical’s relevance.

Glenn Carter, in blonde curly wig (what a stereotypical image), has made the part of Jesus very much his own. He’s played Christ on Broadway, in the West End, on tour and on film for over more than a decade.

Also a veteran of many other London shows, such as Le Mis, Joseph and Whistle Down the Wind, Carter has an amazing voice and huge empathy with the role.

His suffering comes across so strongly, notably as the lepers clamour for his cleansing hands and, of course, just prior to and during the horrific depiction of the flogging and crucifixion.

His silent flinches of pain while he takes the 39 lashes are almost too unbearable to watch.

Tim Rogers is a handsome, rabble-rousing Judas Iscariot but I was distracted that we only ever seemed to see 11 disciples on stage – apparently because on Tuesday’s press night the actor playing Nathaniel was upgraded to portray Peter and there was no-one spare to take his seat at the last supper.

Rachel Adedeji as Mary Magdalene:

Rachel Adedeji as Mary Magdalene: gentle purity

Rachel Adedeji,  a 2009 X Factor finalist, is a Mary Magdalene of gentle purity and Tom Gilling is a gorgeously camp King Herod with his nipple tassels and bright blue glittery eye-shadow for his big number, which does grant a little light relief from the overwhelming sadness.

I also enjoyed the riotous and colourful scene of revelry in the temple before Jesus chucks everyone out. Just like a regular Saturday night in Croydon.

Johnathan Tweedie’s bemused Pontius Pilate managed to make me feel sorry for the man’s predicament and if you want to hear what must be one of the deepest vocals in the business, look no further than Cavin Cornwall as Caiaphas, who has unsurprisingly voiced the man-eating plant in Little Shop of Horrors.

This Bill Kenwright touring production is at the New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday.

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