caods managed this in three ways: The fantastic set design and use thereof, the choreography of a large cast and, although not to my personal liking, an interesting visual interpretation of the song Superstar
The multi-layered set, with sliding stairs and doors, enabled the cast to spread out ensuring the stage never appeared crowded despite there being over 45 people on stage at times.
Speaking of the large cast, I have to give kudos to the brave choreographer who decided to attempt, and succeeded at full cast dance numbers within a musical not always noted for dance routines. Despite a few random moments with ladies holding floral garlands, the dances added to the production well. A highlight for me was the swirling effect created by the cast towards the end of the Temple scene.
For me, the least said about the costume choices for the song Superstar the better. I suppose I am too much of a traditionalist, but seeing ‘The Stig’ in the number detracted from the superb singing, although the number was definitely a crowd pleaser, so what do I know!
Which brings me nicely onto talk about the cast and their specific performances. As Jesus, Stuart Woolner performed superbly. His performance grew in strength as the show progressed. The calmness and compassion he portrayed in the early parts of the show were brilliantly contrasted with the pain and suffering he portrayed later on. His version of Gethsemane, although vocally excellent, did not send shivers done my spine as I feel it can and indeed should.
The casting of Simon Bristoe as Judas opposite Stuart was a stroke of genius. The chemistry between the two was, at times, palpable. Simon put his all into the role of Judas, both vocally and physically giving a powerful and emotive performance even with some microphone issues. He also showed great commitment to the role as he lay motionless on the stage for about five minutes after the auditorium lights came up and before the curtain fell. I am not sure whether this was supposed to happen, but either way, well done to Simon for not breaking character.
Karen Kelleher played the role of Mary excellently, with outpouring of emotion needed for such a role. Her singing was superb, especially in Can We Start Again Please.
A special mention has to go to Gareth Barton as Pilate, a performer I have seen play the role before with The Essex Group., who once again didn’t disappoint. David Everest-Ring entertained the audience with his ever so camp version of Herod’s Song, which was a spectacle to behold, definitely another highlight.
This was the first caods production I have seen and I was greatly impressed. I look forward to seeing their next production, Guys and Dolls which will be performed in February 2015.