On opening night Friday, Neeley seemed a bit wan and tired in the first half, but inhabited the inspiring role with immense power in the second half to thrilling effect.
This version of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera is exceptionally well done, and the opening-night crowd loved its Neeley. When he first appeared onstage in his simple white robe, the audience greeted him with applause. But in the first half, when Jesus is riding high among his energetic disciples, Neeley was overshadowed by Corey Glover, who commanded the stage with his combined strong vocals and smoldering intensity in the difficult role of Judas.
Glover's performance was consistently first-rate, as he swung from self-righteous criticism of Jesus' relationship with Mary Magdalene in "Strange Thing Mystifying" to tortured crisis in "Damned for All Time."
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