News, events and schools' information for families across Bristol

Georgette McCready revisits her youth with a hugely enjoyable and uplifting production of a West End classic…

Seeing Jesus Christ Superstar as a teenager in the West End was my first experience of a big, live show. We went on a school trip and our young minds were blown. For weeks afterwards we were scribbling lyrics in our rough books (remember them?) and re-living the whole emotional JC experience by listening to the musical on vinyl.

My adult self approached this new version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber classic warily. Would it seem dated to a modern audience? Would its 1970’s rock guitar riffs and soulful ballads feel like a period piece?

Photo Paul Coltas

Happily, the answer was a resounding no! This touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar was originally created for the Regent’s Park open air theatre last year and has successfully been adapted for indoor stages to great effect. It is now touring and is in Bristol until Saturday, 16 March.

The story of Christ’s last days are told through the viewpoint of Judas, Mary Magdalene and Christ himself, played as a very human, humble man by Ian McIntosh, with a powerful, empathetic performance. Mary (Hannah Richardson) is a strong woman in this production, with a clear, beautiful voice, while Judas (Shem Omari James) carried off some difficult songs with superb range. He also made Judas a rounded character, in turns despised and pitied.

Photo Paul Coltas

The cast assemble gave a hugely energised performance, the pace not dropping for a single second, so we were swept along, great song after great song. Isn’t it funny how lyrics learned as a teenager stay in your head for decades? I Don’t Know How to Love Him, Everything’s Alright Could We Start Again Please, Herod’s Song and, of course, the uplifting Superstar at the emotionally draining finale – I could have jumped on stage and sung along with every word!

If you have young people studying drama, do treat them to a ticket for this touring production. It has very high production standards, from the staging and the lighting to the live music, the singing and the choreography. At times the ensemble dancing carried us along in a whirl, at others it was slowed right down for a series of painterly tableaux.

Photo Paul Coltas

The simple, informal costumes lent a timeless feel to the story. Whatever your faith, this remains an emotionally engaging and visceral tale.

As always, the Hippodrome in Bristol has a real buzz as the audience fills this big auditorium, with its glorious red and gold interior. A West End treat without the cost and hassle of heading into central London.

Jesus Christ Superstar at The Hippodrome, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol, BS1 4UZ, runs until Saturday 16 Mach. Tickets from: