Jesus Christ Superstar

Date 15th October 2021
Society Alnwick Stage Musical Society
Venue Alnwick playhouse
Type of Production Musical
Director Norman Luke
Choreographer Leonie Airlie
Musical Director Peter Brown

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Author: Kathryn Curry

It was so lovely to be back in a theatre at last and to hear the buzz of excitement from the audience before curtain up. Always an air of anticipation before ASMS performances and this one was no exception. The great sounding ‘Band’ were just a delight to listen to and under the baton of musical director extraordinaire Peter Brown the show set off to a dynamic start and this continued throughout the show.  The company had an open set and it was simple but extremely effective and a super platform to perform from. It was well used by the cast and at all times showed off the actors at their best with scenes flowing easily from one to another. Border Studios are to be commended for this authentic set.

Lighting was really well planned and added an extra dimension to the show and one really appreciates the talented Andy Hunt and his inspired lighting plots which change subtly and flawlessly. Follow spots were well controlled and effective. The ladies in the wardrobe department dressed the show with costumes in an authentic style but with a modern twist. I was very impressed with them. It was great to see the crew of this society back in top form.

This was a powerfully passionate performance which was extremely slick and so well rehearsed.  The show was expertly staged under the imaginative director Norman Luke. Leonie Airlie choreographed simple but effective routines and with changes in cast rose to the situation to adapt and perfect routines! The chorus excelled in this iconic and intense Andrew Lloyd Webber musical which was sensitively cast with each leading character rising to the challenge of the roles of the complex characters they had been given. Each character was clearly defined taking every opportunity taking every opportunity to relay the drama. Lead voices were sublime with musical arrangements a wizardry of acrobatics. The chorus whilst working as one developed their characters; vocals were really strong in all their numbers. They worked hard to portray the brutality inflicted on Jesus and at other times displayed a disturbing air of grim reality and certainly had the audience captivated.

Darren Lewis ‘Jesus’ was outstanding and gave a performance that was agonising in his role as Jesus waiting to face his ultimate challenge and sacrifice. His rendition of ‘Gethsemane’ was gripping and one could feel the silence of the audience as they felt the tension of the performance. He had every aspect of his role covered with his intense and sensitive characterisation.  Rebecca Corbet ‘Mary’ portrayed the character well; developing it in  her own style showing empathy and spirit.  She had a strong and powerful voice. Mark Stenton ‘Judas Iscariot’ was simply amazing; what a versatile actor and singer he is. He obviously lived the character and his performance sent shivers down my back as the frustrated and tormented Judas with his powerful range of singing and intense acting.

Anthony Stoker ‘Pilate’ is a stalwart of this society and every performance is perfection from him. As ‘Pilate’ his diction was superb and with his wonderful rich singing voice he was perfect in this part. This cameo role was one of the highlights of the night for me. David Wilson ‘Herod’ never fails to delight the audience and really gave everything he had to bring this character to life with a good helping of humour and wit, moving well with the lovely dancers Leonie and Juliette who danced their socks off. David has such wonderful stage presence and engages with the audience so well. He gave us an hilarious, most enjoyable and comedic characterisation of Herod.  I loved Stuart Archer ‘Caiaphas’ and his portrayal of this character through his deep and commanding voice was truly threatening and another high for me. He was absolutely superb in this role.

There are so many male vocal male roles in this show and every single one impressed me with their diversity of characters and ability to sing, they just came coming one after another in every scene. What a bunch of men with such talent. To many to mention individually but they each took command of their roles. Well done Gary Brown, Ryan Frost, Peter Biggers, Henry Thompson, Chris Blythe, and James Grieve. Cast additions Paul Toward, Mick Grant and John Firth complimented the scenes they were in.  Special mention to Matthew Winter the young member of this cast playing ‘Peter’. He was so gentle, but strong in his acting and sensitivity of the part and had such a lovely voice. ‘Could we start again please’ with Rebecca, Matthew and ensemble was so emotional and moving with voices blending beautifully.

The welcome I received back stage was overwhelming especially as I was originally in the cast. So good to be back ASMS! Thank you for inviting me, I had an emotional but wonderful evening and must congratulate you all for an outstanding show.  And…..finally….my huge thanks to unseen heroes ‘understudies’ willing to do this in these uncertain times. You are to be applauded.