By Nyla Arslanian
All Photo Credits: Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade
You could call me a 50-year fan of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's work. It was the Jesus Christ Superstar
album that introduced me to their music. And it was the music, first and foremost, that got my attention.
Looking back, it was very unusual for such a theatrical venture to be brought into being in this way. The late 60s and early 70s were interesting times. This show is part of that lexicon.
Last night, when I noticed the 50th Anniversary acknowledgement, I knew that had to have been for the album released in 1969 and not the opening of the play
For, to our great delight, my husband and I had moved from Los Angeles to the New York metropolitan area in 1971 and saw the original knock your socks off production. Seeing the album come to life was one of my alltime great theatre experiences.
Since then, I've seen other productions of the show, and, for me, as long as the music and voices are good, all rolls merrily along.
Last year I was mesmerized by the NBC TV production with John Legend. It isn't often that theatre translates to either film or television. But when it does, it's an extraordinary experience. I was not disappointed as again the play delivered. I have not seen the movie preferring to always see this extraordinary work live.
From the opening's haunting guitar solo at the lavish Pantages Theatre, I was once again carried along by the joy of another fine production of this marvelous work. The 90-minutes without intermission passed seamlessly with exciting, frenetic dance numbers and wonderfully performed solos by Aaron LaVigne as Jesus, James Delisco Beeks as Judus, the storyteller. Jenna Rubaii's Mary Magdelene's lovely "I Don't Know How to Love Him" beautifully provided a moving moment to the narrative that we know does not end happily.
The show stopping entrance of Paul Louis Lessard as Herod, provided a jaw dropping moment and one of the most outrageous costumes ever to grace a stage; his performance is just as stunning.
The opening audience, like me, seemed familiar with all the numbers, cheering as each actor/singer gave their performance.
Enough can't be said about the caliber of the music and all vocal performances that lead up to the crucifixion which added a touch of realism to the play's final scene. Kudos to the band and Music Coordinator, John Miller. In fact, the main problem with this offering of Jesus Christ Superstar is that it has such a brief run.
If this is one of your favorites, as it is mine, treat yourself to this 50th anniversary celebration.