Jesus Christ Superstar Review - Up Close and Intimate

Caleb Blaze

Got to hand it to Theo Ubique.  They took the “greatest story ever told” and made it even greater.  This acoustic take on the classic 70’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (Andrew Lloyd Webber)is an unabashed, in-your-face production designed to grab you by the crucifix.  Maxwell J. DeTogne, as Jesus, both looks the part (his beard alone deserves separate billing) and perfectly captures all of the Son of God’s insecurities and doubts.  In a cast of many talented voices, Danni Smith (Mary Magdalen) stands out for her beautiful vocals.  And Ryan Armstrong’s is memorable for his evil but still very much turmoiled portrayal of Pilates.  Director Fred Anzevino cuts no corners and the experience is a big stage production custom tailored for an intimate space.  It also helps that the band rocks those pre-disco licks like no one’s business (although at the very onset they rocked so hard I missed a few vocals).  

Donterrio Johnson

Maxwell J. DeTogne and Company

Also impressive was the cabaret experience that is the No Exit Café (a space consisting primarily of crammed together tables and a no-nonsense bar to the side).  Food is a possibility and is served by cast members before the show.  At intermission the cast mingles and refreshes drinks although no one was willing to turn my water into wine.  Unlike that other 1970s gospel inspired play Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar is not often performed in such a small space.  Give Theo Ubique credit for taking the chance in doing so.

Ryan Armstrong

Bottom Line:  Jesus Christ Superstar is highly recommended and is playing at No Exit Café (6970 N. Glenwood).  Tickets are $39 - $43 (cheaper for students and seniors) and dinner is $25 with prior reservations.  Playing Thursdays (7:30 P.M.), Fridays and Saturdays (8:00 P.M.), and Sunday (7:00 P.M.) through April 12.  For tickets call 800-595-4849 or go to theo-u.org.  For more general theater information and reviews go to theaterinchicago.com.

 

Maxwell J. DeTogne

Photos by Adam Veness

 

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