The Mid Cheshire Musical Theatre Company (MCMTC) bring us the global phenomenon Jesus Christ Superstar. The stellar cast produced an emotionally charged and accomplished performance which left me very moved.
Superstar is a challenging piece both in terms of its narrative, subject and score. It references the Easter story but from the point of view of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus and ultimately took his own life. The show ends with the crucifixion of Jesus himself, so not a classic feel good musical I hear you say, but if you approach the piece with Christian ethos then the death of Jesus takes on a significance that is actually awe inspiring.
This last scene particularly highlighted the fantastic lighting design, controlled by Ian Wiper from Aurian Lighting; the outstanding musical direction of Peter England, assisted by Sebastian Singh, along with an unnamed band of top class musicians. This is a piece where the cast sing throughout and so the music is a vital component, underpinning everything. The cast definitely had solid foundations. I especially enjoyed the brass section, I wish I could give them a name check but they get no mention in the program which I think is actually disappointing.
MCMTC used to be called the Mid Cheshire Amateur Operatic Society until fairly recently and I am glad they did make the change because there was nothing amateur about the performance I witnessed tonight. That’s not to say it wasn’t perfect but I was so very impressed by the commitment, the emotion and the overall package, that I don’t care about the imperfections. In fact, in many ways, these flaws gave the piece a humanity, a rawness, that for me, made it even more engaging. It also created a backdrop on to which the principles were able to shine even more brightly.
Andrew Dunn as Jesus Christ was spellbinding! I couldn’t take my eyes off him whenever he took to the stage. I was drawn by stage presence, his amazing voice and his passionate portrayal of this iconic figure in history. Many times I saw the lights reflect off the tears in his eyes and when he carried the cross through the audience to Golgotha I held by breath as he passed my seat - a truly outstanding performance.
Another stand out performance was Sarah Ford as Mary Magdalene. Her biography says that this is her first venture into amateur theatre. That really surprised me. I think she has a natural talent and a beautiful voice. Her characterisation of Mary was delicately crafted. This reviewer would definitely like to see how she develops as a performer, I think she has so much more to give to an audience.
Then I come to Andrew Lee as Judas Iscariot. This part is not for the faint-hearted and is more rock-opera in style than musical theatre. Andrew’s background in Opera and Vocal Studies definitely came to the fore. His performance, for me, wasn’t perfect. Some of his top range, rock-style shrieks weren’t pretty but at times they matched the anguish he was emoting. He really blasted the audience with both barrels and I felt that maybe, at times, less would have been more. It would have accentuated the points of real torment that Judas faced and heightened the experience of the audience. Nevertheless Andrew gave a very accomplished portrayal of a very complex character.
Final mention goes to Josh Radcliffe as Annas, one of the High Priests. This is his first show with MCMTC and I think he is a great asset to the company. His voice had a quality that rang out in every scene. There was something special about it that really captivated me, I believed every crystal clear word he enunciated, exceptional!
This is a fantastic show from an equally fantastic, and hopefully award winning company - they have been nominated for awards from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association. The award ceremony is this weekend but if I were you I’d be getting a ticket to see Superstar which continues until the 2nd April!
Reviewer: Alan Harbottle
Reviewed: 31st March 2016