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Performance Review: Rendered tentatively despite the superstar pedigree
It’s been seven hours and 15 days, or something like that, since I saw Teatret Gorgerne’s revival of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. And my brain is still ceaselessly hammering out the choruses, melodies and crescendos … sod’s law … of the songs that aren’t my favourites.
Disclosure time: I’ve always loved ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Granted, Tim Rice’s lyrics are a little clichéd at times, but no other musical has ever rocked it out as well as this one – from the very first chords of the electrifying overture to the marvelously flamboyant title song at the end.
So when I got the chance to see it live for the third time, seven years after seeing Gorgerne perform it at Tivoli, and to this time introduce it to my 10 and 13-year-old daughters, like Jesus in Gethsemane, I couldn’t say no.
Bringing colour to the church
The venue this time around was Købnerkirken, a church in Amager with seating for one or two hundred.
At first sight, it didn’t exactly inspire the Transfiguration: dour Protestant aesthetics, no Stations of the Cross, a wooden blanket chest doubling as an altar, and tin ornaments that suggested all the decent stuff had been nicked yonks ago by Palle Sørensen.
But then again, what was I expecting: the veil of the covenant ripping itself head to toe at the heresy before us? Sure, we could have done without the introduction from the trendy vicar – sorry, make that a sermon. But at least the place has a balcony … that will do for Judas.
This holy trinity gets our vote
Some latecomers … goths by the look of it. Should they even be setting foot in a church…sorry they’re the performers, and Judus (Tom Aarup Larsen) has got his game face on: “Listen Jesus! I don’t like what I see! All I ask is that you listen to me!” Listen? He’s singing loud enough that the good people of Østerbro can hear him.
Jesus (Anders R Gjesing) is unimpressed – the two of them were at Tivoli after all, and that venue was much swankier – and he gives as good as he gets, screaming out insane falsettos and handing out piercing stares, making a strong case for all future messiahs to be baldies.
Rikke Osvang Aarup completes the class of 2011 as Mary Magdalene, and the trio’s assured performances underpin what is more a production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert’ than the actual musical. The feelings are no less earnest though and as an added bonus: it’s got a shorter running time.
Problems with phrasing
Really, given their clout, we’ve hit the jackpot – we can’t expect every performer to be top-notch, and it’s understandable when some of the chorus members really struggle with their occasional moments to shine.
Less forgivable are the Jewish priests, Annas and Caiaphas, who are a particular letdown as their scenes alongside Judus are some of the most powerful the musical has to offer. Annas is weak and forgettable, while Caiaphas doesn’t have the deep range. Both struggle with the phrasing – superbly written standalone lines sound hollow uttered from their lips.
Others are just as guilty, although the actor playing Pontius Pilate improves after a ropey start. But if there is a show-stealer, it is Mathias Lakshøj-Hansen as King Herod.
During the interval, my daughters excitedly told me about a chorus member pulling faces on the back row, so imagine their delight when he donned a bowler hat to bellow out the song that tends to be every child’s favourite.
Book your tickets for April 14
Following two shows at the church, Teatret Gorgerne are taking the performance to Kulturhuset Kilden in Brøndby (Nygårds Plads 31) for a performance on April 14 (20:00; 125kr – write to oplevbrondby.billetexpressen.dk).
Given the calibre of the three main performers, buying a ticket is a must. As the great man kind of says: “Don’t let them take this cup away from you.”