Jesus Christ Superstar – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Few composers are the equal of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. He was never one to take the road more traveled. Even as a teenager, when he was just starting to test out his literary pen, he chose a topic less main stream and more creative: he wrote a musical about a boy in the Bible who receives an unusual gift from his father. That became the world famous rock musical “Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

In the years to come, Lloyd Webber continued his unorthodox choice of subject matter by composing musicals about a gang of backyard felines (CATS), a poor woman who rises to become a powerful figurehead in her country of Argentina (Evita), teams of train engines who race on roller skates (Starlight Express) and a disfigured young man hiding in the bowels of a Paris opera house (The Phantom of the Opera).

Now you have the opportunity to experience another record breaking musical about another boy in the Bible: “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” playing Tuesday to Sunday, to July 22 at the Jorgensen Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut as the last offering in their Nutmeg Summer Series.

Composed by Lloyd Webber with Tim Rice, this almost five decade old musical concerns the last week in the life of Jesus Christ and it is an emotional and moving experience This is true punk rock, a biblical retelling of a savior who wants to cleanse the world of corruption and sin. This last seven days in the life of Jesus Christ, who is portrayed by a memorable Alex Prakken, is told through the eyes of his betrayer, one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, played with all his anger and confusion evident by Ryan Vona.

Tender moments are underscored by Sasha Renae Brown’s Mary Magdalene as she confesses of Jesus “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” while the passion and suffering are momentarily alleviated by the antics of a song and dance Vaudeville routine by King Herod, a mischief making Griffin Biennicker, belting out “King Herod’s Song.” The high powered political naysayers who have banned together to end Jesus’ reign as the King of the Jews are led by Tyler Grigsby and Jonathan Cobrda. This spectacular rock musical that separates the myth from the man is directed by Terrence Mann and the non-stop dance moves are choreographed by Christopher d’Amboise. The lighting designed by Doug Harry is especially effective. A full orchestra led by Bryan McAdams supports the fully sung story.

For tickets ($48 and up), call the box office at 860-486-2113 or online at crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Enter the emotional whirlwind as Jesus Christ realizes that those closest to him are determined to witness his destruction. After three years of trying to teach his beliefs as the son of God, he is sad and tired and prepared to die for his cause.

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