CONGRATULATIONS to Arbroath Musical Society on what can only be described as an outstanding amateur production of the Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. The first night performance on Tuesday at the Webster Memorial Theatre was a moving experience, the singing exceptional and the cast were entirely in their characters and enthusiastic.
The story is told mainly from the viewpoint of Judas, the disciple who eventually betrays Jesus and turns him in to the Roman authorities. The rest is probably the greatest story ever told and the players brought to life the last seven days of the life of Christ.
James Hutcheson was producer and he certainly got the best out of the cast. There were some very clever moments which the writer will not reveal allowing those who have yet to see the show an opportunity to enjoy them.
Eileen Robb portrayed Mary Magdalene with compassion and a deep understanding of her role. The clarity of her voice allowed for a beautiful rendition of the haunting show stopper ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’; Danny Laverty succeeded in conveying the turmoil of Judas and his opening number ‘Heaven on their minds’ was highly charged. Filled with despair at his wrongdoing Judas commits suicide and later his arrival with angel wings and silver lame and the soul girls for the famous ‘Superstar’ was amazing.
The role of Jesus is a demanding one as it is a very difficult character to understand. Young Chris O’Mara’s performance was very good and he looked the part. Chris was in fine voice throughout and his performance of Gethsemene as he questions whether he can go through with what he knows is going to happen was quite remarkable as were the duets with Mary Magdelene, ‘Everything’s alright’.
Fraser McGlynn played Herod in a sleazy way and his song in a burlesque style with his three ladies is either loved or hated by the audience. We loved it! John Hayes gave a wonderful portrayal of Pilate and was dressed in a Nazi type costume. (Another of those clever moments). His anguish during the trial was extremely professional and one could feel the grief as he realises just what he has done in ordering the crucifixion of Christ.
Other principal parts all played and sung with belief in what they were doing were taken by Mark Masson, Caiaphas the High Priest; Alan Christison, Annas; Michael Carlin, Peter; Scott Ramsay, Simon; and Ged Ryan and Jamie Watson, Priests. They gave a fine rendering of ‘Jesus must die’ which was very powerful.
The impressive chorus gave of their all and were extremely enjoyable to watch particularly when joined by others from the cast in a very disturbing moment as Jesus is set upon by lepers.
Judas’ death scene, the 39 lashes and the crucifixion were very well done and one could sense those in the audience were quite moved, especially as the crowd watching at Calvary broke down in tears. The ending with Mary Magdalene and Jesus after he was taken from the cross was wonderful and quite uplifting.
Cast members were in terrific voice and lent much to the production. Their signing of ‘Hosanna’ was another highlight in the production. The cast members are - The Apostles, many of whom had cameo roles played in just the right character mode and with aplomb, were Danny Laverty, Michael Carlin, Scott Ramsay, Jamie Watson, Fraser McGlynn, Jimmy Gray, Josh Wright, Ruaridh Mathieson, Blair Wallace, Fraser Wallace, David Walker and Garry Mitchell
The ensemble - Heidi Cathro, Jill Duncan, Annette Fraser, John Fraser, Susan Robertson, Jim Shaw, Vicki Watson, Jane Barraclough, Colette Dear, Ruth Dickson, Evelyn Fordyce, Karen Fleming, Linsey McDonald, Fiona Jeffery, Iain Kennedy, Debbie Littlejohn, Lyla Martin, Alison McLeod, Lorraine Boyd, Val Bledowski and Janet Irving.
The talented orchestra under the baton of Richard Allan were on stage under the set and comprised: clarinet/tenor saxophone, Bob Thomson; French horn, Lindsay Millar; trumpet Colin Sangster; keyboards Marine Kyle, Isobel Luke and Richard Allan; guitars Matthew Robinson and Paul Morrison; bass guitar Eunice King; drums Andy James; percussion Paul Judge.
Construction students at Angus College, along with Eric Brown and their joinery lecturers, planned and built the set for the show, including a set of stairs and, of course, the cross required for the crucifixion scene. The whole set worked very well indeed and slotted into position very easily.
Stage manager was Grant Ewart; stage crew manager Martin McLeod; stage crew Dale Barraclough, Callum MacKay and Craig Mackay; props Michael Carlin, Scott Ramsay, Chris O’Mara, Iain Kennedy and the company; sound Apex Acoustic; lighting AML Lighting.
Costumes were simple but authentic and were made by Catriona Cumming, Debbie Littlejohn and Margaret Duncan.
Well done Arbroath Musical Society we now look forward to you next production ‘Titanic the Musical’. ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ continues at the Webster Memorial Theatre until Saturday. If you have not got your ticket then pop down to the box office and get one! You will leave the theatre quite uplifted.