Jesus Christ Superstar

Date 5th April 2016
Society Brighton Theatre Group
Venue All Saints Church, Hove
Type of Production Musical
Director Michael Burnie
Musical Director Carl Greenwood
Choreographer Jodie Michele

Report

Author: Kay Rowan

Jesus Christ Superstar is the story of the last week of Jesus’s life and the antagonism between him and Judas. The original show, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, opened on Broadway in 1971 to great acclaim and has packed theatres the world over ever since.  Last night was no exception in All Saints Church, Hove where the cast brought the action alive creating a modern contemporary urban setting complete with mobile phones.

Signs, similar to those used on demonstrations adorned the area front of house where the audience gathered showing traces of a mixture of excitement and apprehension. The programme was well designed, easy to read, informative, credit was given to all those involved and future productions well-advertised – what more could you ask for. 

The task of turning a church into a theatre is never an easy one however the experience and expertise of this crew showed itself very clearly in the superb construction and lighting rig.  The set appeared very simple but there were several quirks which must have made the get-in particularly complex. The exceptionally smooth scene changes were achieved by the very creative use of simple scenery.  The lighting engineers used the elements of the building to enhance the lighting.  The reflections from arches and windows making a significant contribution to the ambiance.  In general, the sound engineers achieved their goal creating a great sound which suited the acoustics of the church, however occasionally the singers were overpowered by the enthusiasm of the band. 

The show was set contemporaneously and the costumes and make-up were superb - the balance of colour and style between the various groups was a core ingredient of the staging and worked exceptionally well.  It was obvious that a great deal of time and effort had been put into creating the overall effect.

The orchestra were excellent supporting the performers well, although they were a little loud on the odd occasion. This show is completely sung through, so it is imperative that the story is told through the singing.  This means that diction should be crystal clear so that the words can be heard easily and the story followed.  There were some occasions when the drama and action superseded the clarity.

The choreography was outstanding with the cast achieving high quality moves and synchronisation.  The energy displayed only served to heighten the tension of the story.

Throughout this production the whole cast maintained their focus and were completely immersed in the action.  Whilst the principals were exceptional, in all respects, credit must be given to the supporting chorus without whose energy and unflagging commitment to their roles the show would have not reached its high level of excellence.  The production team are to be highly commended for their attention to detail and establishment of the right atmosphere at the right moment.  Brighton Theatre Group are to be thoroughly congratulated on delivering an excellent evening’s entertainment - albeit thought provoking.