Theater Review: Jesus is a “Superstar” in Bartlesville


Broadway in Bartlesville continues its season with rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Bartlesville Community Center, 300 S. Adams Blvd. Starring actor Ted Neeley as Jesus of Nazareth and newcomer James Delisco as Judas Iscariot, the opera centers on the political and interpersonal struggles of Judas Iscariot and Jesus. “Jesus Christ Superstar” is based on the canonical gospels’ accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, beginning with Jesus and his followers arriving in Jerusalem and ending with the Crucifixion.
Jesus’ disciple (and later traitor) Judas Iscariot is the focus of most of the opera, as he struggles internally regarding his devotion to Jesus and his misgivings about the rising popularity of his ministry and its effect on the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
This is not just an ordinary production; “Jesus Christ Superstar” has a 21st century feel to it. A live orchestra played multi-layered musical arrangements, featuring rock and classical elements.
Neeley, who has worked with notables such as Bo Diddley, Keith Carradine and Meat Loaf, hits the high notes perfectly and precisely during Act One and Two. The self-explanatory storyline ends with the Crucifixion and the orchestral piece, “John 19:41” – “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.”
I think most of the audience thought there was more to the story after Jesus ascended to heaven, but the lights came on, and cast members walked on stage for the final encore. Hearing one audience member say, “Oh, I guess it’s over. We should stand” was an indicator that although the play was good, a flawless finish would not leave those in suspense.
However, it is awesome that Broadway productions do cater to the smaller market. The appreciation for arts in Bartlesville was certainly there.

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