Rock Nativity – Mitchell Arts Centre – Christmas 2014
Open your ears to heaven for a retelling of the traditional Christmas story in the not so traditional “Rock Nativity”. We’ve all sat through the kids school nativity, well now you can sway in your seat or jump up and cheer to the musical numbers of this particular retelling.
By the end of the first act you would have been captured by the soulful vocals of Rachel Faith as Mary, the classy kings trio and the comedic shepherds dance number!
Rachel Faith takes on the well known roll of the virgin Mary, her performance was honest and believable making her solo’s “open your heart” and “what game are you playing lord?” some of the most powerful in the show.
In this nativity we also get to delve deeper into the character of Joseph and the distress and challenges he would’ve faced supporting Mary through such difficult times. Mark Cooper faced this challenging role superbly, the clear hurt portrayed after Mary reveals she’s pregnant followed by the heartfelt number later on in “with you” makes the audience really fall in love with Mark as Joseph.
The three wise men bring in a touch of suave and sophistication to the Mitchell Arts Centre in their swing number “follow the star”. Tony O’Rourke, Ian Brereton and Greg Walker are clearly no strangers to the stage and the chemistry between the three of them is so natural that for me personally it makes them a major highlight in the show.
Don’t worry though there is an even balance of class and comedy in this show as we move from the meeting of the three wise men to the three watchful shepherds. I have never before thought of any of the nativity characters to be jokers as such but with these three characters you’ll be doubled over with laughter. James Dawe, Oliver Heath and Andrew Wellings are like three bickering brothers milking the audiences’ affection. The cheesy song and dance number “counting sheep” had the audience whooping and cheering for more. Andrew gets chance to play many different roles throughout the show and displays himself as a very versatile actor.
Also doubling up on roles is James Dawe who plays a passionate Simeon in act 2. Showing off his vocals in a tear-jerking performance of “peacefully”. A faithful servant to his faith shows genuine elation at meeting the baby Jesus before his tragic death after receiving a beating from Herods gaurds.
Herod himself is a king of arrogance and vanity, Danny Gray held his presence on stage and portrayed the character well, watching the fall of King Herod in act 2 was a notable moment for all.
The unique direction of this show by director Geoff Legan is worth paying for a ticket on its own. The contemporary take gives every member of the cast chance to shine. There is not one member who has not enjoyed the journey of putting this show together and that is obvious from the performance of each and every member of the cast. The clever use of space and levels makes the story easy to follow for everyone in the audience. The Angel Gabriel always entering from the upper tiers helped establish the characters authority.
Jordan Fox who plays Gabriel has very little dialogue in the show and never officially introduces himself to the audience however his stage presence is outstanding and the clever stage directions really awe the audience not to mention his angelic vocal performance. He left everyone stunned!
If you’re looking for an enjoyable night out this Christmas and appreciate amazing talent get down to the Mitchell Arts Centre, Broad Street, Hanley and watch this heavenly cast in “The Rock Nativity”!
Review by Natasha Dawe.