Jesus Christ Superstar: Still Rocking at 50

Growing up, my family would watch the 1973 film Jesus Christ Superstar every Easter. Decades later, I have continued that tradition with my own family. Although I have seen different adaptations, I have been wanting to see the show live on stage for years. My Broadway bucket list dream came true, thanks to the Straz Center inviting me to attend the opening night performance of Jesus Christ Superstar 50th Anniversary Tour.

Jesus Christ Superstar - cast North American Tour
The North American Tour Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for Murphymade

A Timeless Tale Reimagined

If you’ve seen multiple productions of Jesus Christ Superstar like me, then the narrative remains familiar. We follow the final weeks of Jesus’ life through the conflicted eyes of Judas, his disciple and eventual betrayer. Superstar transcends the traditional musical format, weaving rock anthems with operatic flourishes to create a powerful and emotionally charged experience.

Timothy Sheader’s masterful direction breathes new life into the story creating a rock concert experience. The stripped-down, contemporary set design resembles city scaffolding, which draws your attention on the raw emotions and internal struggles of the characters. Abstract projections and stark lighting create a dynamic visual landscape that reflects the turmoil of the era.

Reflecting a contemporary feel, the players dress in modern day street clothes, grounding the narrative in a relatable present. This juxtaposition underscores the universality of the story’s themes, demonstrating their continued relevance in our modern world.

The rock concert feel and modern street clothes perfectly pair with the contemporary choreography – an eclectic blend of modern jazz and hip hop. The ensemble moves with a raw physicality and electricity that beautifully captures the emotional intensity of the music.

Jack Hopewell in Jesus Christ Superstar with lights
Jack Hopewell as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for Murphymade

Showstopping Performances

Capturing the essence of their respective roles, the cast delivers knockout, powerful performances that gave me goosebumps. Jack Hopewell embodies Jesus with a captivating charisma and vulnerability. His rich vocals soar effortlessly through iconic numbers like “Gethsemane” and Superstar“, conveying the weight of his mission and the depth of his anguish.

Elvie Ellis (Judas) portrays the conflicted disciple not as a villain, but as a man wrestling with faith, disillusionment, and the burden of prophecy. His commanding stage presence and powerful vocals infuse “Heaven on Their Minds” and “Blood Money” with a potent blend of anger and despair. That despair symbolically portrayed with stained silver hands for his betrayal.

Elvie Ellis in Jesus Christ Superstar
Elvie Ellis as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for Murphymade

The supporting cast is equally impressive. Jaden Dominique (Mary Madalene) brings warmth and strength, particularly shining in her heartfelt rendition of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” Grant Hodges cuts a formidable figure as the imposing Caiaphas, his booming voice adding gravitas to the religious tensions simmering beneath the surface. Alex Stone delivers a compelling portrayal of Pontius Pilate, his internal conflict evident in every measured word and gesture. Alex Diem (Herod) brings some glitzy, glam comic relief with a cabaret performance of “Herod’s Song”. Diem’s stand out tap dancing performance as well as the gold sequin certainly sets Herod apart from from the other players.

A Show for All Generations

Jesus Christ Superstar has always been a musical that transcends genre and age. This new production retains that universality. The timeless themes of faith, betrayal, and the struggle for power resonate with audiences today as strongly as they ever did and the iconic rock anthems like “Everything’s Alright” and “Superstar” still remain powerful audience pleasers.

The show’s rock concert aesthetic, with its pulsating lighting and energetic choreography, will certainly appeal to younger audiences unfamiliar with the original production. At the same time, the depth of the story and the power of the score will undoubtedly captivate seasoned theatergoers who hold the original near and dear.

Elvie Ellie Jesus Christ Superstar
Elvie Ellis as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for Murphymade

A Must-See Theatrical Event

Jesus Christ Superstar 50th Anniversary Tour respects the legacy of the original while offering a fresh and vibrant theatrical, rock concert experience. The show is a testament to the enduring power of this iconic musical – its ability to continue to spark conversation and ignite emotions for decades to come.

Experience Jesus Christ Superstar at the Straz Center now playing until Sunday, March 10. Know before you go – The show runs 90 minutes without an intermission.

Visit for showtimes and tickets.