On Stage: Jesus Christ Superstar

It’s a modern version of Jesus Christ Superstar awaiting audiences attending the Production Company’s latest show on at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre.

Zoy Frangos and Rob Mills in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Zoy Frangos and Rob Mills in Jesus Christ Superstar.*

Judging by the reaction of the audience on opening night it’s a version, produced by the Production Company in association with the Really Useful Group, which has great appeal.

As the show’s director Gail Edwards explains, her Jesus is a 21st century superstar.

“If Jesus came back today he would probably be crucified all over again as everything he stood for, believed in and taught would be a confrontation to our capitalist system,” she said. “Because this could be happening today the visual world we try to create onstage through the set and costumes in this production deliberately becomes a metaphor for now.”

Zoy Frangos and the priests in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Zoy Frangos and the priests*

As a result of this interpretation there’s a vast array of costumes while the `action’ takes place on industrial scaffolding.

Jesus and his followers are dressed in modern day street clothes while other costumes range from futuristic soldier outfits to showgirl glamour. There are guns and even a TV camera.

While set in the present, the age old issues Jesus Christ Superstar raises, issues such as love, loyalty and betrayal, are still very evident in this production. There are the very distressing scenes including the beating and crucifixion of Jesus. And then there’s the music – performed enthusiastically by an 11 piece orchestra and a talented cast of experienced and up and coming performers.

Michael Cormick and Rob Mills in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Michael Cormick and Rob Mills*

Rob Mills understandably received a big cheer on opening night for his performance as Jesus. He successfully portrayed Jesus’ emotional turmoil and extreme physical pain and received enthusiastic applause for several of his numbers including “Gethsemane.”

There were also plenty of cheers for Zoy Frangos who clearly illustrated Judas’ anger and frustration.

Alinta Chidzey and Rob Mills in Jesus Christ Superstar

Alinta Chidzey and Rob Mills*

Alinta Chidzey’s presentation of Mary Magdalene’s songs won deserved applause. They included “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” which provided one of several musical highlights of the evening.

The leads were excellently supported by Michael Cormick as Pontius Pilate, Trevor Ashley as King Herod, Paul Hughes as Caiaphas, Stephen McDowell as Annas, Mike Snell as Simon, Andrew Cook as Peter and a hardworking and talented ensemble.

As with all Production Company shows, the energy and enthusiasm of the cast played a major role in ensuring this version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s  rock opera hit the right notes with the audience.

Jesus Christ Superstar is playing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre until 13 August.  For more information and tickets visit theproductioncompany.com.au

*Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Jesus Christ Superstar as a guest of the Production Company.

Photo credit: Jeff Busby.

Visit travelswithjb.com.au-live shows for more show reviews.

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