The rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, clearly echoes the 1971 sound of its time, as well as providing a vivid retelling of the final days of the Messiah of the New Testament. Somber, severe, and majestic, the Ordway’s revival focuses on the strained relationship between Jesus (Jesse Nager) and the disciple who betrayed him, Judas Iscariot (Randy Schmeling). These two actors deliver visceral and intensely related performances. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice give us a Christ figure who truly struggles with his destiny and a Judas who struggles with ego and the need to be right. Though some purists in the ’70s found that approach offensive, it makes Jesus’s struggle identifiable as profoundly human.
Director/choreographer James Rocco and music director Andrew Bourgoin align dynamically with the piece’s archetypal power. The enchanting Lauren Villega gives touching renditions of two of the show’s most gorgeous tunes, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” and “Everything’s All Right.” The fluid ensemble flows into captivating stage pictures reminiscent of classic Bible story images that vividly delineate the life of the poor and that of the privileged. Whatever your faith or lack of it may be, this production movingly unfolds Jesus’s anguished and redemptive story.
Jesus Christ Superstar
Through July 30
Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul