Skip to main content

Review of Jesus Christ Superstar at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Forgive me father for I am about to sin.

That momentous rock opera called Jesus Christ Superstar and written by Lord Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice is perhaps not all its cracked up to be. Well, in my ever so humble opinion anyway. The money it has made and success it has had, obviously dictates otherwise, so I bow to this.

It has its merits, the title song "Jesus Christ Superstar" is a magnificent piece and that coupled with the powerful ending makes the final fifteen minutes wonderful. Much of the rest is what I would go as far as saying is just noise, and this is not because I hate rock music. Much of the time the music overpowers any singing going on and when this is not happening it just feels like a lot of howling. A prime example of the ear is in the beholder perhaps, but this music is not for me. Having said all these disparaging comments, I have to say "Hosanna" is a superb song and my favourite of the show. The one track I took with me from the Derngate as my earworm

The other problem I have is honestly knowing whether this all lies in the music or the performers of the show. That is therefore where I fall down and fail as a reviewer of this, with no comparisons (other than a trip to YouTube soon no doubt). The only thing I would maybe blame on the main cast, is that the ensemble pieces are much better performed than the solo ones. Cavin Cornwall is the exception to this rule however, as Caiaphas he has the deepest voice that you could possibly imagine. I feared for a while I would fall into it. He is quite superb.

Also superb are the production levels. This is one truly visual feast on the eye, even if your dear reviewer didn't always like the sound of it. One of the biggest touring sets I have so far seen from designer Paul Farnsworth and excellent choreography from Carole Todd. At all times the show is lovely to look at.

However this is a musical and for my ear it fails in that, be it the performers (more likely), or the show itself (less likely, it's made a couple of quid I believe). If you are a fan and fully know what to expect, I suspect that you will not leave disappointed. The matinee crowd the day I saw it felt equally confused as many of the "pauses for applause" were left hanging in total silence, and yet at the end many stood for applause. However like I say, those last fifteen minutes are superb, so perhaps they were on a high from that.

«««


Performance reviewed: Wednesday 18th March, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Jesus Christ Superstar is on at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 21st March, 2015, details here: 
http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2015-2016/Derngate/jcsuperstar/?view=Standard

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Market Boy by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have now written a little over two hundred and fifty reviews on this blog (yes I know, amazing. I am sorry). Most shows I have enjoyed, many I have given four star reviews, a good number have also got that lofty five stars from me. There is however hiding among them five star reviews, another tier of brilliance. One that lies in my head, where everything comes together to go beyond that five, but where I have nothing left to give. The play, the performances, the staging, and perhaps even more to elevate what is a personal opinion as a review, an actual personal emotional feeling or connection towards the piece.
Market Boy written by David Eldridge and performed by the Royal & Derngate Actors Company will (spoiler intended) receive five stars from me at the end of this review. However as that first paragraph suggests, this was one of those that went a little further for me. Set in what I happily claim as my decade and featuring throughout the music of that decade, which I claim …

Review of Benidorm Live at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre to see this touring stage version of ITV comedy hit Benidorm with a distinct lack of knowledge. Having never seen the show, my information stretched as far as knowing it was set in a holiday resort in Spain (the title helps there), and that the humour generally resorted to the cruder end of the spectrum. However, having graced the screens for ten years, it was clear that Derren Litten's show had garnered quite a following, and indeed it was clear from the reception of the audience on the night, that this following was pretty much filling the theatre.

The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show,…

Review of Oliver! by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Two years ago this week, I saw for the first time the older faction of the Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre perform Sweeney Todd (I had seen one month before the younger part create the delightful Honk!). While a quite brilliant level of standard has continued in their productions since, nothing has quite reached that optimum point of Sweeney for me. Oliver! is their latest production and this epic scale show merges all of the age groups together to create a spellbinding piece of youthful and lively theatre that is rightfully packing the auditorium like no R&D youth show before.

I have to say straight up that Oliver! does not beat the legend that is Sweeney for me, however it comes as close as we have ever been to doing so. A lot of this perhaps is down to my personal taste and Sweeney's two stunning leads, which have yet to be bettered. The macabre nature of Sweeney also gelled with me and Lionel Bart's tale, despite being packed with more known tunes than seems possibl…