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Review | Jesus Christ Superstar | Manchester Palace Theatre | 13/09/2023

Telling the story of the last days of Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar began life as a concept album in 1970, before opening on Broadway the following year. Fast forward to 2017 and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic rock opera won Best Musical Revival for Timothy Sheader’s bold reimagining at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. This acclaimed revival has finally kicked off its long-awaited UK tour at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

From the moment the red curtain reveals the industrial staging, the audience know they are in for a treat. A fallen cross lays centre stage, with obvious parallels to the fall of Christ at this time. Either side sit industrial scaffolding structures, which house the band and are utilised by the cast throughout to great effect. It is clear from the opening moments as the ensemble storm the aisles, this is Jesus Christ Superstar like you’ve never seen it before!

Stripped back staging allow for the vocals to shine, and shine they do! Olivier nominated Ian McIntosh (quite literally) gives a biblical performance as Jesus. He is truly exceptional in the role, really coming into his own in the grittier second act as the audience feel his every emotion. Hannah Richardson’s angelically pure vocals as Mary are spinetingling, whilst Julian Clary has the audience in the palm of his hand as Herod.

The real ‘superstars’ of the show however are the powerful ensemble. Drew McOnie’s modern rhythmic choreography gives opportunity for the energetic ensemble to shine. They portray a true mob mentality so powerfully that it really is a visceral experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

With the exception of the flamboyant moment when Clary flips the tone, this isn’t the camp version that some may expect and this works in the shows favour. Darker moments for both Judas and Jesus are intense and beautifully directed. The show is just shy of two hours including interval, but it flew by in a heartbeat. This is Andrew Lloyd Webber at his absolute finest, and this production is undoubtedly the definitive version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Jesus Christ Superstar is on at Manchester's Palace Theatre until 17 September 2023, before going on an extensive UK tour. Click below for booking info:

Photo Credit: Paul Coltas

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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