Photo credit: David James


Jesus Christ Superstar Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics Tim Rice

Dates and Venue 9 July – 16 August 2008 @ 8pm | The Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park

Director Gillian Barber Musical Director Douglas Macaulay Set Design Robert Gardiner Costume Design Chris Sinosich Sound Design Paul Baker Lighting Design Gerald King Choreography Troy Mclaughlin

Reviewer Ed Farolan

This summer’s productions, just as it's always been the tradition for TUTS, run alternating nights with Jesus Christ Superstar and Annie Get Your Gun.

Jesus Christ Superstar is the first masterpiece from the legendary writing team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. This musical was first produced in 1971, and like Westside Story, changed the world of musical theatre. With a score of songs which still are popular to this day- “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, “Hosanna”, “Everything’s Alright”, “What’s the Buzz”, “Superstar”, and “Heaven on Their Mind”, this biblical rock interpretation of Christ's Passion and Death have influenced many actors and directors into producing films, such as Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ.

Set in two acts, this musical tells the story of the final seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. It dramatizes Jesus' entry in Jerusalem, the unrest caused by his preaching and popularity, his betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate, and his ultimate crucifixion.

Unlike the musicals of old, this work comes closer to opera where no spoken dialogues exist; every word is sung.

Gillian Barber's approach of updating the costumes was justified, although I felt there was some inconsistency. Some actors were dressed in modern costumes, but others weren't. The Pharisees, for example, dressed in ancient garb. If she wanted to be consisent in her "modern" approach, she should have dressed them in today's dress code.The choreography by Troy McLaughlin was satisfactory. I felt, however, that there should have been more energy in the dancing sequences.

The musical direction by Douglas Macaulay wasn't too bad. There were a few problems with sound glitches in the July 15th performance, however. Sometimes, the orchestra overpowered the singers. There was also a time when a microphone feedback jarred some of the audience members' eardrums, I believe it was during one of the songs of Mat Baker.

The cast, overall, did quite well. Mat Baker as Jesus Christ was quite moving in his delivery of "Gethsemane" in Act II. Adam Charles as Judas was fantastic. He received a number of warm ovations for his performance. Tamara Vishniakoff as Mary Magdalene sang that classic hit “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, beautifully. The other actors, Tyson Coady as Peter, Douglas Thoms as Pontius Pilate (magnificent acting and singing) and that funny comic break with Andrew Byerlay as Herod tap dancing with his ensemble of dancing girls was well-received by the audience. The other members in the cast did a fantastic job.

I'm glad we have this summer outdoor theatre that has been a tradition in Vancouver since the 1940s, and I always look forward to the musicals presented by TUTS every summer.

© 2008 Ed Farolan