Theatre Musical Jesus Christ Superstar Is Back for a Deserving Second Helping
The Kenyan rendition of acclaimed Broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar yesterday made a successful comeback on the Kenya National Theatre stage, five months after its original Kenyan debut in April. Audiences were left wowed by the spectacular opening night performance put on by the wonderful cast including Martin Githinji as Jesus, Nice Githinji as Mary, Mugambi Nthiga as Judas and the phenomenal Mkamzee Mwatela as Herod.
The play which was created to be a rock opera had its original production in 1970 with later Broadway revivals coming in 2000 and 2012 – all which got nominated for a Tony Award, the world’s highest recognition of theatre work. British director Stuart Nash is the man behind the Kenyan version. He has previously directed other timeless stage shows like Annie and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The musical is sung-through with no spoken dialogue. The story is mainly based on the period leading up to Jesus’s death; beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples into Jerusalem, and ending with the crucifixion. The musical depicts the political and interpersonal struggles between Judas and Jesus that are not present in the Bible.
While his other followers proclaim Jesus to be ‘King’, Judas sees him as just a man. He sees Jesus’s new status as a threat to the Roman Empire and wants him to change his ways. Mugambi does a great job in his role as Judas, and he impresses with his musical talents as well – he hits notes that wouldn’t be out of place in any opera house in the world. The biggest surprise of the play comes in the second act when the play’s Herod is revealed to be female. Mkamzee’s sultry voice and vivacious dance moves had the audience calling for more.
The costume choices are also interesting, especially Pontius Pilate’s Nazi soldier uniform during Jesus’s crucifixion which automatically made the character even more detestable to the audiences. The show’s music by the Nairobi Music Orchestra blends perfectly within the play.
Jesus Christ Superstar runs every evening at the Kenya National Theatre until Sunday, September 17th. If you have no plans for the weekend, do yourself a favour and catch this awesome musical – you won’t regret it. Follow the link to see the full details and timings.