Performed Tuesday 12th – Saturday 16th 2019 at The Rep Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber (with lyrics by Tim Rice) that is widely performed in the UK and around the world, including recent phenominal reprises in London.
The show tells the story of Jesus, his rise and fall, betrayed and denied to his tortured end upon the cross, all to a remarkable rock score.
Some musicals are ambitious by any group’s standards and this is one of them. However, Five Towns Theatre are no stranger to a full scale musical as a well established community theatre company, producing two full scale musicals per year (and two summer school productions).
The stage is set with a large steel structure housing a large band above the action on stage, which also forms a balcony on three sides. It is lit very effectively throughout and all sides are intelligently used as entrances and exits. Seeing the musicians is a bonus of the production, with such a tremendous score, it is nice to see the talented musicians that are playing it – led by an experienced and highly capable Musical Director, Keith Ragdale.
A large cast of around 50 fill the stage as the crowds hoping to get closer to, or to be healed by Jesus with younger cast members used appropriately throughout. The professionalism of the entire company is commendable. The movement in the busy scenes is crafted smartly by Choreographer, Ed Costello – it would be easy to have found the stage overcrowded but groups are used well and the crowd scenes in particular were extremely effective.
When the cast errily turn to stare at the audience within the opening sequence it sends a shiver down your spine which continues until the last beat of the show.
Jesus is played by Nathan Adams, a quality portrayal of a jesus who is out of his depth, becoming more and more fraught as the stakes are raised and his popularity soars. His role is a huge sing which requires an incredible vocal range, Adams hits all the high notes and shows his incredible vocal ability – an outstanding performance.
Likewise Judas, played by Andrew Turner, is a stunning sing. His Judas is cool at first but his character develops as he delivers almost every emotion in a 2 hours that largely centres around his character. Turner is as good as many on the professional stages and his voice is exceptional. His death is a spectacle that leaves the audience gasping and his performance is a joy to watch. Another incredible overall performance.
Many cast members deserve credit and it would be impossible to name them all. There are though some supporting characters who really deliver the goods.
Katie Leath plays Caiaphas, an incredible role that she plays extremely well. Every time she was on the stage she was strong, in control and thoroughly entertaining in equal measure. Along with her co-hort: Molly Joynson and Prests (Steve Harrison, Kloee Tomkinson and Matthew Williams) who were genuinely a joy to watch.
Mary Magdalene is played by Miriam Mould, she has a beautiful voice and plays her role well – a star in the making.
Finally, Jordan Harrison as Pilate is an excellent casting, his character transitions between caring and furious with real depth – and in the scene where he sentances Jesus to the cross it is an incredibly powerful moment, as he screams at the top of his temper, that has you on the edge of your seat.
These young people are learning their craft at a very high standard. The fact is that for the vast majority in this production you are lost in musical theatre bliss. From the Apostles to the incredible Soul Girls, the Lepers and Reporters, the Angels and the Ensemble – it was clear that every cast member knew this inside out and delivered it with a passion that is wonderful to see in talented young people.
Clever use of the staging sees a cross inkeeping with the rest of the set which forms the finale (pictured) and the use of a large cast, with quality choreography by an experienced Ed Costello who manages to create many wow moments throughout.
Most of all, this incredible music is presented to such a high standard that it is worth the ticket money alone.
Directors Abby Evans, Keith Ragdale and Choreographer/Producer Ed Costello deserve high praise from what they have helped this talented group to achieve. This is a production that you will want to see again and again, personally I have already booked again for the weekend. With only a handful of tickets left for the saturday matinee at the time of writing, you had better get in quick.
A 5 star amateur performance.
Find out more about Five Towns Theatre here in the Amateur section of our website, but also at their website fivetownstheatre.org.uk