THEATRE REVIEW: Jesus Christ Superstar

JESUS Christ Superstar is still going strong after nearly 50 years. Phil Turner runs the rule over the Biblical epic as it comes to Rotherham Civic Theatre.

ROCK operas don’t come any bigger than Jesus Christ Superstar.

And you will have to go a long way to see a better production than this one from the impressive Wickersley Musical Theatre Company, a tribute to its long-standing talents. 

I saw the very first West End version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical back in the early 1970s and nearly 50 years on it retains a modern feel with a genuine human dimension.

Everything about this blockbuster show, directed and choreographed by Dee Bennie Marshall, spelled class.

The pulsating music — brilliantly recreated by musical director James Greatorex — surges along at a stunning pace.

Adam Wigglesworth — who may be in danger of becoming typecast after playing the Jesus-like character in Whistle Down The Wind — brought a believable, gentle presence to the troubled son of God.

It’s a raw, moving portrayal of a leader vilified and betrayed by those around him, with a voice capable of hitting amazing high notes which really was to die for.

Richard Morgan as tortured soul Judas Iscariot also displays fine vocals and deftly appealing acting skills, which bring out the ambiguities of the tragic character.

Mary Magdalene is a tough role, but Chloe Jackson superbly rose to the challenge, with a stunning voice — especially on I Don’t Know How To Love Him — and touching moments with Jesus as she grapples with the contradictions in her life.

Ian Fryer, as conscience-stricken Pontius Pilate, has a great voice and captures the rising tension as he delivers Pilate’s Dream.

Ashley Booker is wonderful as King Herod, with a tremendously camp scene-stealing King Herod’s Song bouncing around delightfully with the soul girls.


Donald McInnes is a dour and deep-voiced Caiaphas, with Darren Mann-Saunders as the imposing Annas alongside him as the Pharisees plot to kill Jesus.

They’re the baddies who earn boos from the audience at the end.

Josh Roberts showed off his first class vocals as Simon, as did Daniel Fenwick, as the weak and confused Peter. 

The dancers — Ellie Baker, Hannah Wall, Natasha Stacey, Summer Davies, Sally Smith, Ellie Simmons, Briony Burgin and Eden Davies — and the soul girls — Tasha Barrett, Natasha Stacey and Emily Bolton — were all fabulous, while Michael Madden, Geoff Fenwick and Clive Richardson were on good form as the sinister priests.

The clever set design — thanks to stage manager Matt Roberts and his crew — allowed flexibility and inventiveness, with authentic crowd scenes expertly choreographed and danced by the ensemble of Emma Bartley, Katie Bridges, Vicky Brocklesby, Rachel Hirst, Caroline Myers, Libby Priestley, Nathan Smith and Deborah Stacey.

It all makes for a super night in the theatre.

Jesus Christ Superstar is at Rotherham Civic Theatre until Saturday.