March 12, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 85  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Jesus!
Christ!
Superstar!

Jesus Christ Superstar
Starring: Arthur Wright, Maria Stoesser, Sean McDermott
Directed by: Matthew Wilson

By Ryan Pratt
Gazette Writer

Just when you think you’ve seen everything down East of Adelaide’s dark alleys, Jesus Christ himself shows up and proves you wrong. But God’s son in white sneakers? Disciples in Hawaiian shirts?

Giving a new spin to the idea of dress rehearsal, talented students were adorned in new wave biblical street garb for Kings College’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice collaboration.

Arthur Wright, Maria Stoesser and Sean McDermott star among the dancing apostles and singing stone throwers.

As Mary Magdalene (Stoesser) and the infamous Judas (McDermott) play their roles in comforting or condemning Jesus (Wright), all three performers balance their character’s tenderness, sadness and anger with grace and charisma. McDermott takes the role of Judas to its passionate peak, depicting both the aggressive and the remorseful side of a complex character.

The supporting cast continually reinvents itself through costume and character, providing the stage with every street merchant, wounded devotee and mob member one can hope for. These transformations are seemingly instantaneous, as director Wilson ensures enough activity on stage to allow cast members to quickly switch personas.

Despite the Palace Theatre’s rather substandard acoustics and limited space, the song performances are highly entertaining to both the ear and eye. While the cast are wearing microphones, it is often difficult to decipher what is being sung and occasionally the story-line can be lost due to muffled sound quality.

The stage decoration is minimal, as props and costumes distract attention from the two wooden-planked risers which act as buildings. Even the restriction of free space in the auditorium is put to creative use, as the dual entrance corridors are often filled with cast members, literally placing the audience in the middle.

However, the most prevailing and unavoidable talent in Jesus Christ Superstar belongs to the voices of stars Wright and Stoesser. From powerful projection to soft lamenting, Wright’s voice rules over all other instrumentation, complementing the strength of his pivotal character.

While J.C. and crew have been stylistically and musically updated from the scriptural era, Jesus Christ Superstar is a tremendous show for religious preachers and pacifists, both young and old. Overcoming the obstacles of the Palace Theatre, this Kings College production is well worth the short trip East of Adelaide.

Jesus Christ Superstar is playing at the Palace Theatre. 710 Dundas St. until Sunday Mar. 14. For showtimes and ticket prices call 672-9900 or 1-800-265-1593.

 

 

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