March 22, 2013
This review appeared on New England Theatre Geek. Read it on their website here.
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Norwood) The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra (URO) rocks. They have made a brilliant career out of rocking classics by musicians such as The Beatles, Bowie, and Queen. Last night’s performance of Jesus Christ Superstar was no exception. Put simply, they capture all the funk that Andrew Lloyd Weber missed.
This is not a traditional production of JCS. The URO’s interpretation of this rock opera incorporates minimal staging, an updated musical arrangement and an incorporated light show. Fostering any expectation for this production to be faithful to the medium of musical theatre would be hazardous to one’s experience. URO’s vast quantities of charisma and charm come directly from their willingness to connect with their audience. There is no 4th wall. The musicians are more focused on creating a thrilling experience than on developing Chekhovian characters. The product is a story told in the vein of The Who’s Tommyor Bowie’s Diamond Dogs.
The vocal blew the roof off! Director and producer, Dr. Defiance was a sincere and frustrated Judas. Trip Kinney (Jesus) gave a raw humanity to his role. Romeo managed to portray Pilate as monstrous and just the tiniest bit sexy. Elektra (Mary) sings like a siren and shines like a jewel on the stage. Her interpretation of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” is worth a listen for leading ladies in training.
The organ sounds like a circus. The guitars and bass growl like tigers. The singers slink in and out of the band taking equal turns behind an instrument making the instrumentalists a natural part of the production. Everyone is off-book. The electricity of performance radiates from them all.
Rock concerts can be just as dramatically impressive as theater. The URO make this a habit at theirs. Although, this production is more Hedwig and the Angry Inch than it is Phantom of the Opera, this production of JCS is more than worth the commute to Norwood (during rush hour, no less) and price of admission. Anyone expecting a traditional musical is not in the correct place but if you are educated in the art of the URO, you are sure to have an excellent time.