(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/22.)
It might not qualify as a miracle, but with help from choreographer Drew McOnie, designer Tom Scutt and a first-rate cast, director Timothy Sheader is turning water into top quality wine with his revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock musical, originally released as a concept album.
For all its gorgeous, giddy, lyrical moments, this can’t always transcend its late-60s rock antecedents and sometimes seems a trifle dated, but Sheader successfully locates its heart in Scutt’s rusty, rough and ready design, with its cruciform walkway. He fearlessly negotiates some of the show’s camper excesses, and sometimes embraces them: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper gets a witty look in, and it’s a masterstroke to have Judas’s hands stained with silver, like a glittery Lady Macbeth constantly confronted with the evidence of his guilt. Sheader’s production constantly pays reference to its origins as an arena show – Judas hangs himself using his microphone and cable.