Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Jesus Christ Superstar
National Tour
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's recent reviews of Plum Bun and Red Riding Hood

Nicholas Hambruch and Cast
Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade
From May 2-7, 2023, the 50th anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Superstar blessed the Kimmel Cultural Campus' Miller Theater (formerly Merriam Theater) with inventive choreography, splendid sets, inspired costumes, frenetic energy, and some seriously unfortunate sound issues. The movement, the stage, the outfits, and the ensemble's ample enthusiasm were dazzling, but it was extremely difficult to make out what any of the actors were singing or saying. That sound issue made it hard to enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice's (lyrics) beloved score and impossible to follow the narrative line.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a popular rock opera musical that tells the story of the final week in the life of Jesus Christ, from his arrival in Jerusalem to his crucifixion and resurrection, as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. The characters and events are portrayed in a way that emphasizes the human and political elements of the story rather than its supernatural aspects. The sensational score includes songs such as "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Superstar," and "Everything's Alright."

Imaginative, fresh, and modern, Drew McOnie's choreography was thrilling. The non-Equity cast executed McOnie's vision vigor and spirit. Tom Scutt's manic multi-level set was delightful and every costume in the production was spot on. I have no idea if the sound issues I experienced were unique to the theater–I cannot begin to imagine the technical issues that come up with a large scale touring production like this one–but sound designers Keith Caggiano and Nick Lidster needed to make sure the audience can make out the words coming from the actors' mouths. Director Timothy Sheader has ended up with a production that looks and feels amazing, but is frustratingly difficult to follow.

Jack Hopewell and Elvie Ellis delivered real vocal excellence and emotional intensity, but it is impossible to say more about their performances due to the sound issues. I hope that the next touring production coming to the Miller Theater can resolve these issues. It is a shame to see such a great show and exuberant cast constrained by technical limitations.

Jesus Christ Superstar ran May 2-7, 2023, at Kimmel Cultural Campus, Miller Theater, 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia PA. For more information on the tour, please visit

Jack Hopewell: Jesus
Elvie Ellis: Judas
Faith Jones: Mary
Grant Hodges: Caiaphas
Nicholas Hambruch: Pilate
Kodiak Thompson: Annas
The ensemble includes Ethan Hardy Benson, Joshua Bess, Jordan Wesley Brown, Jahlil M. Burke, Cooper Clack, Kalei Cotecson, Emma Cook, Lydia Eku, Savannah Fisher, Domanick Anton Hubbard, Haley Huelsman, Jeremy Makana Hurr, Brett Hennessey Jones, Lena Matthews, Hosea Mundi, L'Oreal Roache, Colin Robertson, Darren James Robinson, Erich W. Schleck and Lauren Soto

Creative Team:
Director: Timothy Sheader
Choreographer: Drew McOnie
Set and Costume Designer: Tom Scutt
Lighting Designer: Lee Curran
Sound Designer: by Keith Caggiano and Nick Lidster