REVIEW: Jesus Christ Superstar at Wolverhampton Grand

Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1970 rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. Making its Broadway debut in 1971 and its West End premiere in 1972, it's been widely credited as one of Lloyd Webber's all time great's.

The musical started its life as a rock opera concept album before being staged, thus the show is almost entirely sung in a comparatively short 2-hour piece. The story is loosely based on the Gospels' accounts of the last week of Jesus's life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion.

However there's an amount of artistic licence, with Superstar depicting interpersonal struggles between Judas and Jesus that are not present in the Bible. The show is also noted for adaptations to its staging, with many, more recent interpretations bringing the staging and costume up to date and giving a post-modern take on the original.

That theme is something which continues in the new UK tour of the show. Described as a 'reinvention for this millennium', this production is visually stunning with the most exceptional use of lighting and sound which compliments the performers brilliantly.

Taking of performers, when it comes to the cast we need to sit back and comprehend the talent on the stage this evening. This cast are, quite simply, breath taking. Taking intense choreography and one of the most vocally challenging scores in one of the most iconic musicals in history in their stride, the performers on stage were on fire tonight and were clearly revelling in the applause and cheers their efforts were generating.

Hannah Richardson's interpretation of Mary Magdalene had the perfect blend of beauty and power. With a softer, more emotive vocal, Richardson had the audience in the palm of her hand, listening to every word. Her performance of 'I Don't Know How To Love Him' being a particular highlight.

Shem Omari James took on the role of Judas and gave a commanding performance (with a phenomenal falsetto!). There was something brilliant about his interpretation of the character that I can't quite put my finger on, but in any case his vocal agility is clear for all to see.

However, the stand out performance for me was that of Ian Mcintosh as Jesus. Ironically, the titular role is often one that can be upstaged by Judas, however Mcintosh maintained his intensity throughout and never played second fiddle. One thing I can't stress enough - his voice was EXCEPTIONAL. From powerful belts to delicate falsetto, his performance of Gethsemane was the best of the evening by far.

Mcintosh's acting ability should also receive plaudits, especially during the latter half of the second act where he portrays a near-death Christ. With a graphic, intense look he had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout and never was this more evident than the build up to - and opening chords of - 'Superstar'. The entire audience had collective, palpable goosebumps and a sharp intake of breath. Those notes are the very definition of iconic and the power and intensity they hit with was a stand-out moment.

This production of Superstar breathes new life into a behemoth of a show in a way that has created a version fit for a new generation.

Jesus Christ Superstar plays at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday 18th November 2023. For more information, or to get your tickets, head to

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