Jesus Christ Superstar

Rated 4.0 Sacramento crowds are not coming to Jesus. Halfway into a two-month run, the Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar is playing to half-empty houses.Owners Kitty and David Czarnecki thought they had a great idea in staging Jesus Christ Superstar during the Easter season and in the wake of the success of The Passion of the Christ. Besides, they figured, parents who experienced the show as young hippies when the 1971 musical first came out would bring their children. But the lowest attendance figures in recent Garbeau’s history have proven them wrong, and they can’t quite figure out why.

It’s a shame, because this Jesus Christ Superstar production has a lot of heart and soul. Though considered scandalous when it first came out, this Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical now comes across as quaint. You can take the kids without worrying about an “R” rating. Compared with Mel Gibson’s graphic take, it’s the “less blood and more love” version of the Scriptures.

The cast and accompanying musicians bring their own passions to the production—singing, dancing and playing with energy and enthusiasm. Notable are Jason Bortz as the tormented Judas, Troy Thomas as the anguished Christ and Don Hayden as the wash-my-hands Pilate.

That said, seeing Jesus Christ Superstar as dinner theater is a bit disconcerting, with a large crucifix and a suffering Jesus looming over diners. But overall, this production bursts with all the joy, sadness and ultimate redemption felt by the followers of that rabble-rousing messenger known as Jesus Christ.