Three is a magical number. Three is the number of actors playing Jesus on Broadway right now. Three is the number of Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals on Broadway right now. And three is approximately the number of memorable moments from the newest revival of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar. JCS is a fire starter in the world of mainstream rock operas. The story is timeless and the music is edgy. Sure this revival of JCS is timeless and edgy, but it’s quite possible it has gone too far.
Robert Brill’s set looked cool. It was very modern and purposeful perhaps even borrowing the second level left over from former Neil Simon Theater tenant Ragtime. It was so modern, there was a ticker, like the ones you’d find out by Times Square, that flashed across before each scene telling us exactly time and place. The design served McAnuff’s intention, but may have been better suited for a completely different show. Paul Tazewell’s costume seemed like Post-Apocalypse meets Urban Renewal meets reject Rent costume meets actual time period. Again, the costumes looked cool and fit the intentions, they just seemed lost and incongruent, especially when the ensemble is clad in leather S&M apparel and during “Herod’s Song” when we get some recycled Joseph... costumes. There is little to truly say about the lighting except for the fact of its use during pre-show and intermission. Unless the Neil Simon Theater lacks house lights, Howard Binkley used two booms and an assortment of other lights to fill the house with light, blinding me in the process. This is not the first time I’ve been blinded by a Binkley design. I sat in a very unfortunate seat during the West Side Story when I was blinded during the balcony seat and not being able to see “Tonight.” This was most definitely a choice.
In a big season for theater, Jesus Christ Superstar will be one of those forgotten productions. There was no reward or payoff in the end. This production is better suited for an edgy regional house. If ever there was proof that a notable title will put butts in the seats, this is it. Audiences will come flocking leaving more deserving shows to fall in the shadows.