BroadwaySF’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ is absolutely heavenly

photo of a performance

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To those unfamiliar with the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the premise may seem a little ridiculous. The thought of a rock opera about the last week of Jesus’ life may raise a few eyebrows and more than a few questions. “Jesus Christ Superstar” does not sell itself short in any respect; not in its music, not in its choreography and not in its effort of providing an exciting, thoughtful retelling of the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, and BroadwaySF’s production of this complex musical will absolutely take your breath away.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” opens with a mystical guitar riff, and lights shine on the pit orchestra — except, the band isn’t in a pit, but rather on full display in the heights of the set platforms. It’s fitting, too, because the instrumentals play a significant role in rounding out the production; the ability to see the orchestra perform above the actors throughout the show enhances appreciation for the extraordinary musicianship. While the musical’s story is spectacular, “Jesus Christ Superstar” comes with the added bonus of providing audiences with an added, simultaneous show.

The band’s playing complements incredible singing performances. It should come as no surprise that the world-class cast would deliver world-class performance, but no matter how high expectations may be, they will almost certainly be exceeded. As a rock opera, many of the singing roles required actors to have both musical theater range and consistency, a rougher, rock rasp and the ability to master and balance the two. An obviously difficult task, the cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar” made this skill appear miraculously easy.

Standout performances come from Aaron LaVigne as Jesus Christ, Alvin Crawford as Caiaphas and James T. Justis as Judas Iscariot. LaVigne’s vocal prowess and steady growl make him a fantastic lead with seemingly endless range. Crawford’s full, deep bass voice resonates in the venue with a unique, rich timbre. When paired with the bright, ringing, bell-like voice of Tyce Green, who plays the countertenor role of fellow priest Annas, the two sound absolutely ethereal. 

The brightest shining performance comes from Justis, whose performance is filled equally with passion as it is with raw talent. The actor has an incredibly well-rounded voice, possessing an outstanding range, astounding power and the perfect rock voice. Justis is truly a jack of all singing trades and master of them too — he can guarantee mind-blowing belting for an insane hour and a half. 

Other aspects of the production worth mentioning are its captivating and fluid choreography, impressively creative set and prop design, and immaculate costume design. The musical is downright stunning to look at at any given moment, and its top-to-bottom excellence means there’s always something to enjoy about the show.

While the premise may initially come off as a little absurd, BroadwaySF’s musical is an incredibly tasteful retelling of Jesus’ last days. The rock music storytelling never feels gimmicky, and every song contains meaningful lyrics that imbue detail and complexity to the story. By putting a modern twist on the retelling and including familiar, flashy metaphors, “Jesus Christ Superstar” amplifies its larger-than-life story while making it more captivating, entertaining and accessible. If the well-loved musical intrigues you, there’s an easy solution — go watch the show while it’s still here.

Joy Diamond covers theater. Contact her at [email protected].