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Reviews / Television PopWrapped | Reviews

Review: 'Jesus Christ Superstar Live!' Is Energetic But Lacking

V Donovan | PopWrapped Author

V Donovan

04/02/2018 1:21 am
PopWrapped | Reviews
Review: 'Jesus Christ Superstar Live!' Is Energetic But Lacking | Jesus Christ Superstar Live
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Did you spend your Easter Sunday night watching NBC's newest live musical spectacular: Jesus Christ Superstar Live? If you didn't, then you missed out on a rather energetic and (holy)spirited performance. Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic 1970 musical was a perfect Easter night event, and the production was overall well done. Technically, the show was called Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert due to the fact that the show was performed in front of a live audience and on a stage, similar to NBC's production of The Wiz a few years back. But that didn't really harm the production at all, unless you really hate audience cheers and laughs. And as most live musicals go, some big stars are needed, and so Jesus Christ Superstar Live starred John Legend as Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, Alice Cooper as Herrod, and Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, and for the most part, they all did well. The show also featured a rather large ensemble, but that only added to the energy and excitement. I personally have never seen Jesus Christ Superstar before (I know, what kind of musical lover and Catholic am I?) so I can't compare this performance to others, but I will say that based on this one production and NBC's other live musical adaptations, Jesus Christ Superstar Live was good but not excellent.

Jesus Christ Superstar Live is a sung-through musical, and while everyone's singing was good, but I feel like the acting wasn't as great. Legend and Bareilles, as talented as they are, didn't really shine like I thought they would, but in their defense, they're singers before actors and both don't have a lot of past acting experience. I also feel like John Legend's mic should have been turned up because often it was hard to hear him. But when I could, he sang very well. His raspy voice and range lent itself well to the music, and his solo song, "Gethsemane," was solid.

The one who stole the show, though, is Hamilton actor Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas. Every solo he sang was so powerful and perfect, and he acted very well. He gave 110% during "Superstar", making it my favourite one of the show. Judas isn't supposed to be a loved character, but I was always pleased to see him on the stage because it meant greatness.

Alice Cooper was...Alice Cooper. He did what Alice Cooper does, which is entertain, but he wasn't really a standout in terms of talent or performance value for this production.

In terms of other production aspects: the dancing was on point, and the costumes, though they were a weird mix of leather punk and standard biblical-esque robes, were nice and somehow fit in well with the edgy music and passion. The use of props was mostly good, but a little odd at times. There was one scene where there was a bunch of glitter dumped around, and I'm not sure what that was trying to represent, if anything. But the stage was used well, and the part when Jesus was crucified and died was exceptionally well done, and it was at moments like that when I really appreciated the camera work and angles we at home were able to see.

My biggest problem with the show, though, was that because it was sung-though and performed on a stage where the set design was minimal, is that it was sometimes hard to follow. Where were they supposed to be? Who is this character? What's happening now? Without dialogue to tell us things, I kind of found myself getting lost in the music and dancing because I couldn't follow the plot too well. 

Jesus Christ Superstar Live was captivating enough and fun due to the nature of the music, and it didn't run too long, but it wasn't NBC's best live musical. It's worth a watch and airing it on Easter was great, but I feel like there are better versions of this show out there.

Did you watch Jesus Christ Superstar Live? Did it impress you? What song was your favourite?



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