Theatre review: Jesus Christ Superstar at YMCA, Scarborough

Jesus Christ Superstar at the YMCA
Jesus Christ Superstar at the YMCA
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A first for Scarborough or not – the staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera filled me with dread.

Nothing to do with the amateur status of the performers – only the unwise would dismiss a production because of that.

It may be like saying you can’t stand The Beatles – but I don’t like Webber-Rice musicals be it Evita, Joseph, and especially Superstar which has always struck me as a dreary, chest-beating, tuneless affair.

Well, that sound of chewing you can hear is me eating my words – because the YMCA Productions staging was fabulous.

The piece is the story of a man betrayed by his best friend and who has his faith sorely tested– and these themes were brought to the fore by the director Duncan Lewis.

Powerful, moving, gripping and, in places, funny – the singing and rock music were sensational and the interpretation of the script as the story of a rock star feted by fans and feared by ‘parents’ was inspired.

Damon Hotchin’s performance as the Messiah packed an emotional punch. Gillian Marshall’s Mary was touching. Charlie Shaw was outstanding as Judas, a soul in torment, and Dave Blaker brought a touch of madness as well as an impressive bass-baritone to his role of Pontius Pilate.

The entrance of Herod – camped up by Mark Grayshan – was wonderfully choreographed – the old tap dancing, feather fans, Busby Berkeley-style pizzazz gets ‘em everytime. It was an good old-fashioned showstopper.

The seven-piece rock band were on stage – and part of the ensemble. Musical direction by Harry Bullen was amazingly good.

The show had its lead roles but each member of this incredible cast were all superstars.

Jesus Christ Superstar is on at the YMCA, St Thomas Street, until Wednesday April 16, daily at 7.30pm except Sunday April 13 when the performance will be at 2pm followed by a question and answer session with the director and cast.