REVIEW – Jesus Christ Superstar joyous, tragic, bitter, biting, and fabulous

What’s the buzz? I’ll tell you what’s a-happening: HAWK’s long-awaited, Covid-postponed production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight, that’s what. But is it worth waiting for?

I should say so. Not only did it give Jesus (Jack Parry) enough time to grow his hair to Biblical proportions, and not only is there a simple joy in hearing music raw and live again, but, for an amateur cast who had to rehearse principally on Zoom, it’s beltingly good.

Of course, it’s hard to go wrong when the lyrics and tunes are as fabulous as any Rice/Lloyd Webber collaboration but the pitfall of an entirely sung rock opera is that there’s no dialogue to drive the narrative: the vocals have to be proficient enough to keep the audience in thrall. The Hoylake and West Kirby Theatre Group manage to pull this off.

A beatific Jack Parry looks the part and, when he gets his falsetto on, gives great anguish. Lois Founds’ Mary, styled somewhat as a First Century Marilyn Monroe, tempers the insistent machismo of Lloyd Webber’s electric guitar with honeyed sweetness. But it is Sol Adams, Malfoy-blonde, who is the standout. Not just soaringly note-perfect, he inhabits the stage with the energy and easy confidence of a born rockstar, his pixie features belying his ability to brood. Apparently he fixes bicycles for a living. Go figure.

Jon Croft’s Simon and Simon Brock’s Peter also impressed, as did Stuart Raphael’s portrayal of an entirely conflicted Pilate, bewildered as to just why he should sentence Jesus to death. Jeff Broadbere pulled out a robust performance as Herod, with some high-kicking Charleston-style light relief in his comic turn.

A pared-down set and costumes, coupled with professional quality lighting, allow the performances to take centre stage. A scaffolding pole cross is almost the only prop and contrasts starkly with the glorious exuberance of the finale where Judas returns as a disco angel and glitter a-go-go ends a show that is, in turn, joyous, tragic, bitter and biting but, ultimately, fabulous.

Jesus Christ Superstar opens tonight at the Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight.

Wed 15 September 2021 – Sat 18 September 2021 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm £14 inc fees. Tickets can be booked in advance by visiting https://gladstonetheatre.org.uk/events/jesus-christ-superstar-hawk/ Tickets are also available on the door.

Images: www.fotopiaimages.com

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