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May 17, 2011

Jesus Christ Superstar in Cape Town

Jesus Christ Superstar with the cross

Photo courtesy Diva PR

I must admit that, until recently, I have never been a huge fan of the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

Although it features songs composed by the legendary Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who is also the composer of two of my favourite musicals, Phantom of the Opera and Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar wasn’t one that had ever moved me.

But after Saturday May 14’s spectacular opening night at the Artscape Theatre Centre, I am a true believer! I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been spreading the word to everyone I know.

This often controversial production is a vibrant recounting of the Messiah’s betrayal by one of his trusted disciples and his subsequent crucifixion, as told from Judas’s point of view. Played by the tall, dark and muscular Jonathan Roxmouth, Judas laments what he sees as Jesus straying from His chosen path through a series of moving songs.

Judas, let’s face it, is not a popular biblical character, but Roxmouth manages to make him, if not completely likable, at least more affable, and one begins to understand his distorted view of these historic events.

But it is Wonderboom’s leading man, Cito as Jesus, who steals the show. From his powerful voice to his chiselled, tattooed frame in virginal white clothing, he exudes an almost mystical presence on stage.

Popular South African songstress Nadine’s portrayal of Mary Magadelene strikes just the right balance between the loyal follower and alleged wanton woman. Nadine’s rendition of the show’s most popular number, I Don’t Know How to Love Him, is fantastic.

Energetic dance numbers by the talented ensemble cast, featuring everything from army soldiers doing hip hop moves to protest marchers displaying their support through a series of intricate ballet steps, keeps the pace of the story flowing.

Terence Bridgett, better known for his often comedic soap opera roles, is dynamic as King Herod. His brief song and dance routine with some rather saucily dressed performers is quite the show stopper.

From the breathtaking set designs to the phenomenal cast, director Paul Warwick Griffin brings a sensational South African version of this production to the Artscape stage. It is definitely worth a night out!

Jesus Christ Superstar runs until May 28. Tickets are available at Computicket.

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