A ROLLING haze of dry ice floats across the Volunteer Hall as we take our seats in anticipation on the first night of Gala opera’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar.
A daunting challenge for any company, but in the capable hands of musical director and producer Jeff Thomson, the company pull off an amazing spectacle full of light, colour, emotion and stand-out performances that would put many a professional company to shame.
Jesus Christ Superstar tells the biblical story of Jesus Christ’s final days, following him on his triumphant entrance to Jerusalem, casting out the money-lenders in the temple, to the Last Supper, his eventual betrayal, and his ultimate crucifiction. The story is told mainly from the perspective of Judas, the disciple who eventually betrays Jesus and turns him in to the Roman authorities.
With a company filled with such talented actors, singers and dancers each adding so much to this year’s stunning production, I feel I have to mention the three lead actors who deserve all the applause and praise they received from the opening night audience.
Michael Hyslop takes on the role of Judas making it his own, proving what a talented actor and singer he is from the first moment he sets foot on stage. Not only can this man croon as he has shown in previous years’ roles, but he has a superb rock voice too.
Lisa Watson appears to have found her signature role as Mary Magdalene, her voice is absolutely superb – gentle, confident and full of warmth as she sings some of the shows best known songs, Everything’s Alright and I Don’t Know How To Love Him.
In an inspired piece of casting, Tom Lambert is a man who was born to play Jesus. He has it all, the look, the voice and the talent to go far. This, his first leading role in Gala opera, is sure to rank as one of his finest as he brings the character of Jesus to life right before our eyes.
Look out for a brilliantly camp performance by Scott Renwick as the dazzling King Herod along with his sparkly handmaidens.
Alastair Waddell and Ken Lamb are the original “Men in Black” as Caiaphas and Annas, the high priests, while Clark Eaton Turner and Peter Vint as disciples Simon and Peter, together with Kevin Winsland (and his interesting frock) as Pilate, form the backbone of the story allowing the leads to shine all the more.
This show is very different from the more traditional musicals in that the whole show is sung, and what a sound the Gala company made on Monday, overcoming the odd first-night technical problems to fill the hall with a glorious sound, particularly during the rousing Hosanna, the temple scene and the Jesus Christ Superstar number.
Choreographer, Marie McCullough has once again worked her magic with some superb dance routines, brought to life by a wonderful cast of dancers – there are even a couple of belly dance routines in there.
All in all, it’s a very different show this year, but it is something very special, one which will excite, shock, dazzle, uplift and most certainly entertain you.
Jesus: Tom Lambert; Judas: Michael Hislop; Mary Magdalene: Lisa Watson; Pontious Pilot: Kevin Winsland; Caiaphas: Alaistar Waddell; Annas: Ken Lamb; Peter: Peter Vint; Simon Zealotes: Clark Eaton Turner; King Herod: Scott Renwick.
Priests: Richard Jamieson, Andrew Cannon and Robert Waddell; Apostles: Andrew: Neil Johnstone; James G: Harry Keightly; James L: Elliot Douglas; John: Jonny Magowan; Phillip: Greg Blain; Bartholomew: Kyle Blain; Matthew: Liam Blain; Thomas: Graeme Howlieson; Jude: William Pearson; Maid by the fire: Ev Watson; Jesus’s mother: Irene Hume; Herod’s guards: Stephen Scott and Craig Monks.
Dancers: Sara Green, Andrina Maclellan, Avril Aitken, Kayley Henderson, Jan Baird, Jennifer Cook, Lynsey Anderson and Jessica Bennett.
Roman guards: Joe Thomson, Callum Love, Jack Chambers, Finlay Wood, Harry Fletcher, Alex Lyons and Ashton Owen.
Children: Rachel Magowan, Hannah Magowan, Joseph Milligan and Struan Howlieson.
Ladies’ chorus: Janet Maclean, Ev Watson, Janette Weir, Ruth Magowan, Val Little, Lucy Thomson, Emma Finnen, Shelley Foster, Irene Hume, Lesley Whitehead, Grace Rhatigan, Grace Gilbert, Susan Lowrie, Julia Noble and Catharine Fletcher.
Producer and musical director: Jeff Thomson; choreographer: Marie McCullough.