Jesus Christ Superstar features University of the Arts graduate, Jack Hopewell, in title role

-Brenda Hillegas

Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

No wonder this is the 50th Anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Superstar! The Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice musical evolved on stage after beginning as just a concept album. From barely a backing to becoming $230+ million world wide hit close to a decade later, Jesus Christ Superstar reimagines the final days of Jesus set to a 70s rock/pop soundtrack of original music.

Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Shubert Organization are presenting this version, the 2017 Olivier Award-winning production from Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, through May 7th only. For Philadelphia, this tour is even more special than the one that was here 14 years ago because Jack Hopewell, a graduate of our city’s University of the Arts, stars as Jesus. Alongside him is Temple University graduate Kodiak Thompson as Annas. They are phenomenal.

Many of the cast members hold tight to their mics and guitars, so it really feels like you’ve stepped back in time to a 1970s rock show. Even the show’s band is on stage, above the action, jamming for all to see. The glitter and flashing lights across the audience work well with the way this story is told, yet doesn’t take away from the message. Elvie Ellis (Judas), Faith Jones (Mary) and Nicholas Hambruch (Pilate) all captivating on stage and I’d buy this tour’s cast recording in a heartbeat if it existed. Jesus Christ Superstar is an intense 90-minute with a rock concert vibe. There’s no intermission, so plan accordingly. You won’t want to miss a second of what happens on stage, and you don’t have to be a believer to feel the power of this beautiful show. It could be another decade or so before it eturns, so get your tickets now. Jesus Christ Superstar winds down the Kimmel’s 2022-2023 Broadway season. The remaining few are all destined classics and visually stunning, just like this one.

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