He’s back again, and this time it’s theatrical! The 7th Annual Christmas Show returns to The Basement Theatre with Jesus Christ Part II. The creative team behind last year’s Jesus Christ Superstar have brought us a very different kind of Christmas musical. In a last ditch attempt to save humanity, God sends Jesus back for another go at it. This time, Jesus is determined to nail it, without getting nailed. Will he succeed? Each night the audience will decide…
Walking into the theatre last night it was great to see the staging stretching around the theatre with a selection of tiered seating and cocktail tables that were set amongst jutting stage. It looked like this would be a great way to feel part of the action and anticipation was high for this annual festive treat.
So did we get what we wanted this Christmas? Unfortunately not, the show had it’s ups and downs but overall we found the first half unnecessarily long, confusing and it often felt like we were left out of an in-joke? The laughs were just not coming thick and fast enough, although lots of audience members did seem to get the jokes more than we did, as can often be the case with a supportive opening night crowd. There are some quirky moments that will no doubt surprise and delight, but it just didn’t work as well as previous years offerings, this sequel just didn’t push the envelope enough. This is not to take away from the performers, who were actually fantastic giving it their all singing, dancing and joking with the crowd, however, all their enthusiasm didn’t bring salvation. The show is in fact rescued by the much improved second half that wrapped up the story well with a faster pace, top tunes and lots of fun along the way. Direction by Oliver Driver provided for some dynamic use of the Basement space and up close and personal interaction with the cast and audience. The Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera parody is actually done very well thanks to Tom Sainsbury and Jason Smith’s writing which provided some great musical moments, but I guess it also offers challenges in delivering those audience-pleasing cheesy one-liners.
If you want to check out some of New Zealand’ favourite performers embracing the silly season then this show for you. Featuring a different incarnation of Jesus Christ each night played by local telly and theatre stars we’ll hope there will more laughs to come during the season – featuring; Antonia Prebble, Kura Forrester, Jamie Bowen, Rhys Mathewson, Nic Sampson, Olivia Tennet, Chris Parker, Guy Montgomery, Kimberley Crossman, Amanda Billing Rose Matafeo, Hamish Parkinson and more.
Jesus Christ Part II had all the ingredients to make for a Christmas cracker, but the sparks failed to fly on opening night.