Entertainment

'Jesus Christ' rocks Kingston

BY AALIYAH
CUNNINGHAM
Observer writer
aaliyahc@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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You might have heard the story of Jesus' crucifixion. But have you ever heard it told to rock music? If not, then Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by David Tulloch is a must-see. The show opened at Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Saturday evening.

Tulloch said taking a musical of this nature to Jamaican stages is no easy task.

“Firstly, I commuted from Kingston to Montego Bay every week for rehearsals, sometimes two to three times for the week. It is a sung through musical so all the dialogue is sung. Therefore, to align music and conversation to convey a particular meaning is quite challenging in itself,” he told theJamaica Observer.

“There are also the other elements like choreography, light, costumes and set which comes quite weighted to put together,” he continued.

Originally written in 1970 by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera classic. It started as a concept album before its Broadway debut in 1971, and interprets the Bible's account of the last week of Jesus Christ's life.

It begins with preparation for his arrival along with his disciples in Jerusalem, and ends with his crucifixion.

Jesus Christ Superstar played at the Iberostar Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay from April 13-14 before moving to Kingston. It features a Montego Bay cast with Francois Medley as Jesus, David Feare (Judas Iscariot), Rory Franksos (Caiaphas), and Janeel Mills (Mary Magdalene).

The show was entertaining. Act One featured 12 songs comprising Heaven On Their Minds, which was magnificently performed by Feare whose perspective became the primary lens through which the story is told. Mills' emotional performance of I Don't Know How to Love Him, prepared the audience for the betrayal in Act Two.

While the play centred around an emotional Biblical story, it provided comedic relief through songs, dance and costumes.

Act Two featured 11 songs, including the title Superstar delivered by Feare, along with the Soul Trio and the Ensemble. But the highlight performance was an impassioned depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. One patron said she was brought to tears.

“I thought they had a lot of energy, a lot of sincerity, a lot of feeling. I actually cried at the crucifixion. The combination of the music and the energy was particularly pleasing. They were so expressive,” said Betty White.

Her sentiments were echoed by Desiree Reid from the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica.

“It's a really talented cast, the show was wonderfully executed and it was all for a good cause. I enjoyed it immensely. It's hard for me to choose a highlight scene. It was very dramatic,” she said.

Fifteen per cent of the show's proceeds will be donated to the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica.

Tulloch said although rock music is not a popular genre on the island, he was unable to change anything for a Jamaican audience.

“Our license agreement strictly stipulated that you can't change anything in the score so it's done as it was originally written, of course with interpretational difference,” he said.

But based on the cheers and applause from the audience, the musical was clearly well-received. Though it was not a packed house, Tulloch expressed gratitude but wished more people turned out.

Sunday evening's show at the same venue was its finale.


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