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January 22, 2019

Theatre Review: Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar cast in action
Jesus Christ Superstar cast in action

 Jesus Christ Superstar is an award-winning musical. It's staged all over the world. For the first time in two decades, it's now showing in Kenya. 

The show is being staged at the newly revamped Kenya National Theatre. It has a live orchestra that plays throughout the musical and it is seamless. From scene to scene, it cues the audience on what emotion to feel, whether sad, elated, playful, you name it. It is the best soundtrack to a live performance.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a crucifixion story told in song. And yes, in this musical, Jesus is black. The character is played by Dan Aceda.

It portrays Jesus as a powerful, charismatic leader. Crowds just gravitate towards him, effortlessly. If Jesus' story was told in modern day during this election season, Uhuru and Baba would be one worried pair. 



Kenyan aspirants can only wish to get that kind of organic and sycophantic support that Jesus had back then. His charisma 'bila kupeana kitu kidogo' was magical. No leader in the world has that kind of influence.

One would think that given all this power and influence, Jesus would have a puffed-up ego. No. Far from it, Jesus' response to all the praise and adulation was humility. He did not drink up the praise and indulge his ego in all the adoration.

At one point before his crucifixion, Jesus says: "Look at your black faces. You will forget me minutes after I die."



His level-headedness puzzled the leaders in that era even more. 

Jesus was a threat to a point where he was an agenda at all of the strategy meetings in the palace. Then in comes the flamboyant Herod. A woman. A very boisterous character played by Mkamzi Mwatela.

You will not forget her performance. It is breathtaking.

Don't take my word for it, the show is on daily until Monday at the Kenya National Theatre. Come watch the cast of 35, all Kenyan, and orchestra of 35, also all Kenyan, and a crew of 30, mostly students of theatre arts from Kenyatta University, put up the best show ever.

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