Scene from Jesus Christ Superstar on stage

Theatre Review: Jesus Christ Superstar at Norwich Theatre Royal

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This week Jesus Christ Superstar has come to Norwich Theatre Royal as part of the UK tour! We got to see the show on opening night; read on to find out what we thought!

About the show

Starring Ian McIntosh (We Will Rock You, Follies, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) as Jesus, Shem Omari James (Dreamgirls UK Tour) as Judas and Hannah Richardson (Sting’s The Last Ship) as Mary.

Originally staged by London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, this reimagined production won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival, garnering unprecedented reviews and accolades. Choreographed by Drew McOnie (King Kong, Strictly Ballroom), with music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary series of events during the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ, as seen through the eyes of Judas.

Reflecting the rock roots that defined a generation, the legendary score includes ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him”,‘ Gethsemane’ and ‘Superstar’.

Did we enjoy the show?

Let me start by saying that I really didn’t know too much about Jesus Christ Superstar, other than one song, before seeing the show. I really like going into a show like this with fresh eyes because I have no idea what to expect.

Ian McIntosh and ensemble in Jesus Christ Superstar

What’s the show about?

This version of Jesus Christ Superstar is a reimagining, having won an Oliver Award in 2017. Fans of the original version will need to keep in mind that the show has been modernised with some changes.

Jesus Christ Superstar is set in Jerusalem, when Jesus is a pretty big deal. At the time, Jesus is seen to be this amazing man, capable of miracles. Many people in Jerusalem hang onto every word he says. However, things begin to change and people’s opinions of Jesus aren’t always positive. Through the eyes of Judas, we follow Jesus, his followers and his disciples, on the days leading up to his death.

There are, of course, some quite difficult scenes to watch. This is to be expected considering what the show is about.


Ian McIntosh as Jesus
Shem Omari James as Judas
Hannah Richardson as Mary
Joshua Hawkins as Peter
Luke Street as Simon
Jad Habchi as Caiaphas
Matt Bateman as Annas
Timo Tatzber as Herod

Ian McIntosh and ensemble in Jesus Christ Superstar



Although I enjoyed the whole production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the cast and their performances are what made it for me.

Ian McIntosh plays the titular role of Jesus, who I saw a few years ago in We Will Rock You. McIntosh’s performance can only be described as phenomenal. Jesus is quite a complex character, not wanting to be seen as what the people portray him as. Some parts of this role are so quiet and special, while others require huge songs that really showcase McIntosh’s vocal talents. There was absolute silence from the audience in the theatre during Gethsemane.

Shem Omari James is another stand out as Judas. He’s such a complicated character, with the clear confusion of his feelings towards Jesus. As Judas, Shem Omari James’s performance will stay with me for quite some time. You cannot take your eyes off of him while he’s on stage and some of the notes he can hit… amazing!

What I wasn’t expecting to see was a jazzy number from King Herod in a sparkly gold leotard. However, Timo Tatzber commands the stage during his number. This song offers, I think, some much needed comedy in a very dark, and serious show.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show with vocals as amazing as this one. I get goosebumps still just thinking about it.

Ian McIntosh, Shem Omari James and ensemble in Jesus Christ Superstar

Ensemble and choreography

What you might not expect from Jesus Christ Superstar is the choreography. Through interpretive dance, the ensemble is able to convey their devotion and worship of Jesus, as well as their anger and frustration. This is another way that this reimagining of Jesus Christ Superstar has put a more modern take on some areas on the production.

Costumes and set design

Although set in Jerusalem many, many years ago, the costumes in this production are very modern. Think slouchy joggers, loose t-shirts and baseball caps. Jesus dresses the same as everyone else, giving the idea that he’s really no different. He’s just like you or me.

The stage is set up like a rock concert, with huge metal cages at either side housing the band. The loud, live music stops Jesus Christ Superstar from being a show about religion but instead, a show about a rockstar, someone the people see as a superstar. Sometimes though, the music did seem to overpower the stage, making it so the amazing vocals of the cast couldn’t quite be heard clearly enough.

Hannah Richardson as Mary in Jesus Christ Superstar

There are very few changes to the set throughout the show. The set is very simple but it’s done so well. In the middle of the stage is a large cross, which is used for everything. From meetings with the priests to The Last Supper, the cross is the main focus on the stage.

Jesus Christ Superstar very quickly became one of my all-time favourite musicals. I was blown away from the very minute it started and I’m still singing the next day. If you liked We Will Rock You, you’re going to love this one.

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