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|Jesus Christ Superstar|
|Jesus Christ Superstar
by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
Review by John Thaxter (August 1984)Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, which ran at the Palace Theatre from 1972 until only a year or so ago, is badly showing it's age.
Those reverberating and repetive chord sequences, once so novel - which so how adept at pastiche this composer can be, simply get in the way of the ideas being expressed. Not that the piece is strong on message. Christ, in the last seven days of his ministry, is presented as a fading pop idol at the end of his tether, supported by an unreliable fan-club.
Eric Yardley's revival for Youth Action Theatre, which can be seen this week at Kingston Parish Church, is blessed with a first class musical combination under the direction of a young professional musician, Peter Roberts. It also features several singers adept in the rock idiom, whose skills produce exciting sounds, despite the banality of Tim Rice's rhyming couplets.
But the non-rock numbers give this talented cast the best vocal and dramatic opportunities. Andrew Wale's Pilate is an Act One stand-out in 'Pilate's Dream', and totally dominates the rostrum in the operatic trial scene.
Jacqui White as Mary Magdalene does sweet wonders with 'I Don't Know How to Love Him' - the one moment in the show that enlarges our understanding of the relationship between the superstar and his followers. But even she can do little to make 'Everything's All Right' all right: the anodyne lyric clashes with both mood and music.
In the title role, Gary Jones looks good and sounds splendid with a microphone in his hand. Even without the beard and long hair he would be natural casting for the lead role, with his ability to express human warmth and saintly suffering with impressive economy.
But what happened to the big title number? The whole show was built around the optimistic uplift of 'Superstar', and it's odd to find it being performed at the back of the stage with back-lighting on a group of girls in white nighties. I think they need microphones, simplier choreography, and more oomph in the backing to put this over.
There's good work by Ethan Erickson as Judas, Darryl Day as a golden haired Peter, Aiden Paddick as a music-hall Herod, and a group of temple nastiies who mostly enter via a raised walk-way on Graham Osborne's simple but clever setting. Irene Palko's costumes are excellent.
The final performance is tomorrow evening, and the show has been stage as a contribution to the Kingston church tower appeal fund.
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