A soulful and dynamic production of perhaps the most famous story in history is being put on by the Musical Youth Company of Oxford. And could there be a better time than Easter for the musical about the demise of Jesus Christ, which was first transported to the stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1971? Whether you are religious or not, the story is compelling and moving in the extreme. The trick of making the ambitious premise of Jesus as a musical work is to be able to blend the realism of his passion with the lighter, fun elements of a musical, such as dance and colour. In this MYCO succeeds. Their performance conveys the sorrow of Jesus and his betrayal but does so with a veritable cartwheel of vibrancy and luminosity, all to a stonking soundtrack.
The cast are fantastically talented singers. Jesus (Daniel Jupp) effectively portrays Christs humanity in this emotional role. Fred Cambanakis is brilliant as Judas. His singing is impressive in the way that it reveals the intensity of his torture, making him a believable and pitiful character. The voice of Mary Magdalene (Hayley Bater) is powerful yet soothing and beautiful, especially in her rendition of “I Dont Know How to Love Him”. King Herod (Thomas Bayliss) adds a moment of comic relief to the story. Bayliss camps it up and he and his courtiers tap dance in cabaret style, inspiring laughter and cheers from the audience.
The production makes clever use of light and of scenery to produce an eerie “God is watching” effect. This occurs after Judas has betrayed Jesus. As if from nowhere, a chorus of singers appears above him and sings well done Judas as he lies prostrate on the floor.
The Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical does not include the resurrection and so it ends on a sad note. Notwithstanding this, the performances by the Musical Youth Company of Oxford make Jesus Christ Superstar a highly enjoyable and entertaining watch.
Rosalind Miles – Oxford Times, 9th April 2009