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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.

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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/

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