Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jesus Christ Superstar, San Diego Civic Theatre, 1/2/08

A Christmas gift I procured for my mom was a pair of tickets to opening night of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Civic Theatre. My mom isn't necessarily a big fan of Broadway, but she's always liked this particular 'rock opera'. It was one of the first things I remember ever seeing onstage, back as a kid we saw a community college performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic. Then a few years ago we caught the show in Las Vegas, with Sebastian Bach playing the lead role of Jesus, before he became a big reality show slut and we were blown away by his performance.

It's probably because of Sebastian Bach that I was pretty disappointed with this San Diego performance. I understand that it's kind of supposed to be a big deal that Ted Neeley, the original Jesus in the film version, was playing the role of Jesus, but 30 years later, maybe he should've made a cameo as God instead. His voice is powerful and his performance strong, but for me, part of the thing about Jesus Christ Superstar is that you're supposed to find Jesus a little bit sexy, especially with all those moments of caressing with Mary Magdalene. In this case, the young prostitute just looks like a prostitute servicing an old man. It was kinda creepy, I have to say, and the actress playing Mary wasn't one of the best I've seen in the role.

For me, the saving grace was Corey Glover as Judas Iscariot. The singer of Grammy winning band Living Colour, his voice was just what the role called for. It could be that overall the cast wasn't as great as other ones I've seen, the choreography looked a bit amateur, and the costuming was very predictable. It could also be that I saw the last performance in a beautiful brand new casino quality theatre with a far better sound system than we have at our Civic Theatre with a better stage and more elaborate set. Whatever it was, I liked this performance, but didn't love it. I could only keep thinking how great it would've been to see Sebastian Bach alongside Corey Glover...two great rock voices in a way we never would've imagined them 15 or 20 years ago in the same show. Ted almost won me over with the final crucifixion scene, and the lighting created a very dramatic effect you'd have to see for yourself, but overall for me, the performance fell pretty flat. At least my mom loved it, since that was the point anyway, though I should say, even she thought Jesus looked old.

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