Were critics buzzing for socially distanced Superstar at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre?
The show returns to an outdoor setting for a special concert production
Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage
"So it is enormously to the credit of this production, revived and pared back by director Timothy Sheader from his previous award-winning version that has already enjoyed runs at this venue and the Barbican, that within moments of its beginning you entirely forget the strangeness of the situation and are completely engrossed in the staging."
"What it requires is a cast who can sing every note, wringing meaning and passion from the musical's relentless trajectory from hippy-go-lucky idealism to a fateful and fated crucifixion. That is absolutely what it gets here, from a cast without a weak link and so seeped in the show from being part of the earlier productions that it seems to emerge naturally and without effort. "
Clive Davis, The Times
"With no interval (apart from the rain break, that is) the Gospel story hurtled towards its transcendent climax. Pepe Nufrio (who will be sharing the role of Jesus with Declan Bennett) is a demure Messiah with a touch of the boy band about him. Ricardo Afonso (alternating with Tyrone Huntley) rises to the challenge of portraying a Judas who is forever on the verge of a meltdown. Some of his confrontations with his master had the intensity of a modern-day rap battle."
As Mary, Maimuna Memon (alternating with Anoushka Lucas) brought quiet vulnerability to "I Don't Know How to Love Him", while Ivan De Freitas's Caiaphas was a brooding presence amid the sombrely clad temple worthies whose ritual staffs double as microphones."
"The band, placed at the top of the steps, was crisp and tight and seldom threatened to swamp the singers. (In another concession to social distancing, the horns and woodwind were placed backstage.)"
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
"There are legion nice touches, from the minor synchronised inclinations of the heads of the Pharisees as they overhear the intrusive ‘hosannas' of JC's admirers, to the way Judas's kiss of betrayal is denoted, simply, at one remove by a self-ministered daub of silver-paint on Christ's cheek (Pepe Nufrio singing like an angel at this performance).
"The microphones work overtime as a visual motif too – flexing round the captured messiah, throttling Iscariot (Ricardo Afonso a boiling sea of inner torment), with a mic-stand forming the crucifix through which Lee Curran's lighting splinters into the night sky, vapour swirling like the Holy Ghost itself."
Chris Wiegand, The Guardian
"Ricardo Afonso's raging Judas crucially never overpowers the balance, and Afonso shrinks within himself in horror after the betrayal, which leaves his hands and arms strikingly stained the colour of his pieces of silver. Later, fistfuls of glitter are used for the flagellation.
"Most revivals embrace the kitsch extravagances of Jesus Christ Superstar; this one makes sparing but striking use of glitz. There is a superbly measured comic glee in the chorus led by Caiaphas (Ivan de Freitas, his deep voice rumbling up as if from underneath the park itself). Elsewhere, Shaq Taylor wrings much more than you'd expect from "King Herod's Song" and, if there was a roof here, Cedric Neal would be raising it with "Simon Zealotes"."
Nick Curtis, Evening Standard
"Designer Tom Scutt has adopted the stripped-back, midriff-and-bicep-baring aesthetic that worked so well for Evita at Regent's Park last year. The ensemble is in muted athleisure wear, with Jesus in white, Mary in blue, and Pilate and Judas in leather. The cast's physical and vocal exuberance represents a delightful outpouring of talent, thwarted since March.
"Nufrio and Afonso have voices that go beyond impressive to border on the alarming. They and the melodious Memon are sharing the lead roles with three other actors, giving more people a chance to see more actors during this limited run."