Jesus Christ Superstar was never as satisfying a stage musical as it was a rock opera on record – the one that featured Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as JC and Yvonne Elliman as Mary Mags. But approaching a half-century after its debut, its music (by Andrew Lloyd Webber – Tim Rice penned the lyrics) remains thrilling. A new production at the Welk in Escondido is a rousing reminder. Kyle Short (as a very tall Jesus) and Dominique Petit Frere (as a manic Judas) front this high-energy staging directed and nearly over-choreographed by Ray Limon. The sheer joy of a rock opera, of course, is that there is no stilted dialogue in between songs, and JC Superstar is no exception. You can enjoy the Welk’s hilariously over-the-top “Herod’s Song,” the frenetic temple scenes, and the stark, disturbing ending without intermittent babble.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.