Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar
By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Stray Cats Theatre. Directed by Karen Francis. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre (WA). May 9-12, 2019

Jesus Christ Superstar was a huge scale production, played with great spirit, by Stray Cats Theatre at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre.

This production took the “super” aspects of the production very literally, with a cast of 65, a huge crew and a 12 piece orchestra. Production values were high, and although at the matinee I attended, there were some unexpected sound problems, they were handled with professionalism and resolved. Set in an era that might have been early eighties, on a set with a distinctly urban vibe, the feel of the show paid homage to the music without recreating the original look of the production. 

This show requires a very strong leading man, and Paul Spencer answered the call, with a phenomenal performance that was both vocally and emotionally stunning. Alex White played Judas, in his biggest, darkest and probably strongest performance to date, with Peter Knol vocally and physically imposing as Caiaphas. Emily Lambert brought depth to the role of Mary Magdalene.

Other notable performances include Andy Vernie’s believable portrayal of tormented Peter, Jioji Nawana’s strong Simon Zealotes, Dan Jones’ pontificating purple clad Pontius Pilate and Alyssa Burton’s Annas - surprisingly a female Annas works well.

One of the highlights of the show is Herod’s Song, led by Braeden Geuer, which had a distinct Moulin Rouge feel - gorgeously costumed and well performed.

Director Karen Francis has used her large cast well, and choreographer Lisa Taylor has catered well for a broad range of skills. The band, under the leadership of Vanitha Hart, provide strong accompaniment to strong individual and ensemble vocal performances.

Well received by large audiences, Jesus Christ Superstar made an impression.

Kimberley Shaw

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