Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Jesus Christ Superstar, a play written by Andrew Lloyd and Time Rice, and produced by Stuart Nash, performed beautifully at the Kenya National Theatre (KNT). At first glance, it may seem like an average play, but as you sit down and watch, you become engulfed in the spiritual event of Jesus Christ’s death. There is also no spoken dialogue in the play, cast members sing all through during the production, giving the music contemporary attitudes and sensibilities.
The show should actually be renamed “Judas,” since it is seen through his eyes, warning Jesus of the consequences of his ambitions. Mugambi Nthiga’s soaring voice makes Judas’s every distorted and anger filled emotion plain to the audience, especially in his pitiful death scene.
Each actor is worth noting, but standouts include Dan Aceda, whose beautifully controlled voice, meshed seamlessly with his authoritative, yet kind and merciful role of Jesus Christ. As well as Mkamzee Mwatela who successfully maneuver sthe part of Herod in a very appealing and seductive twist, while mocking the God of Jesus.
From the beginning, you can already note who the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys are from their dressing code. While the majority of the cast wear modern clothing, you could spot Jesus in all white, while Judas and the priests dress in full black attire.
The stage would also frequently change from a white wide corridor lit and colourful; a setting found to occasionally accommodate Jesus and his followers, to a dark, narrow, dungeon type location, where Judas can be seen negotiating with the priests on Jesus Christ’s untimely demise. Settings are changed swiftly and regularly, with the stage made up of mostly light props that are easily movable.
As I first walked in, a mob of extras playing the role of the common folk, I felt were uninspiring, their voices were drowned by the powerful instrumentals and their choreography was bland, disorganised and unexciting. However, as the play progressed, the vocal became meatier and the material more dramatic. The act expertly built towards an emotional climax that completely disregarded any previous complaints.
Don’t hesitate to get tickets, to this entertaining, hilarious, seductive, and overall emotional play. The play continues for the next three days, until Monday the 17th, with tickets costing Ksh. 1,500.