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/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Madame Bovary by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Rosanna Lowe's version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was originally commissioned by Simon Godwin for the Northampton Royal Theatre, so it perhaps seems apt, that it returns to a stage of the same town, in this new wacky interpretation from Masque Theatre.

Masque's publicity for the show, describes it as a "madcap tragedy", and for those more familiar with Flaubert's novel you shall perhaps be a little surprised by the anarchic version created here. This is tragedy played for full-on slapstick effect, and while at times it might seem overwhelming in its intensity, the ride we are taken on is a delight.

Directed by Tamsyn Payne and Alex Rex and a team of talented creatives, Madame Bovary's props and design are every bit as important as the talented cast wielding them. For an amateur production, the attention to detail is nothing short of staggering. Gloriously created books filled with delights, puppet dogs and children, mini nuns, and little baskets…

Review of Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I am personally all about making Shakespeare accessible, I take the Emma Rice line, that many were not keen on, that after a few hundred years, it's perhaps worthy of mixing it up a bit to make it more meaningful to a modern audience. I have a feeling the man himself would have no qualms about seeing his classic Hamlet transposed into a garish multi-coloured world, set in a much more hip place.
The Denmark that we see here and that is still referenced, is now very much an African country, and not just because of the heavy black actor casting, this is all about a style and a carnival feeling to many of the scenes. Music is provided by tribal-like drums, and characters stalk the scenes carrying handguns and rifles, bringing a modern feeling to the conflict as well. This is certainly not the "rotten state of Denmark" that most Shakespeare aficionados are familiar with.
Characters are changed drastically as we have more cocksure, swaggering, modern feeling to the individual…

Review of The Rover at the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton

I have seen very little restoration comedy, and with Playhouse Creatures early this year, very much Restoration period, Masque Theatre has provided much of it this year, with this edition of Aphra Behn's 1677 play The Rover or The Banish'd Cavaliers. Behn was quite a landmark writer, recognised as one of the first women to make a living from writing (and has an extraordinary real-life worth researching). Perhaps having watched The Rover now, you can see why her work might well have been accepted back then. It is suitably bawdy, really extremely rude at times in places, definitely farcical (with disguise situations aplenty that wouldn't fool a blind man with a blindfold on) and perhaps most importantly, makes the woman much of the time the victims in the frequent sexual exploits. It clearly wasn't being anything that a man of the time wouldn't write, and probably means it lay a suitable path for success for Behn as a result.

The Rover itself is tremendous fun, ploug…