Review: Jesus Christ Superstar - Dereham Theatre Company
17:02 07 October 2015
If you have preconceived ideas of amateur theatre then throw them straight out of the window and go and watch Dereham Theatre Company perform the global hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar.
The staging, production and vocals of this talented ensemble shout professionalism at its best and a packed audience on opening night made sure the cast and crew knew how much their hard work had paid off with whoops and cheers after every song.
The story itself needs little explanation. Charting the final days of Jesus Christ, his betrayal by Judas and subsequent trial and crucifixion the show brings all the emotion and turmoil of the biblical events to the fore.
Powerful voices from the lead characters filled the auditorium at Dereham’s Memorial Hall from the choral harmonies of the show’s most memorable title song to the sweet and gentle lyrics of Mary Magdalene (Genevieve Plunkett) singing I Don’t Know How to Love Him. Nobody missed a beat or a note throughout.
It was hard to believe this was Michael Stoker’s theatrical debut as he performed the lead role of Jesus of Nazareth with confidence and style and the beautifully crafted crucifixion scene was both memerising and distressing in equal measure.
Elliot Hunter played his troubled apostle Judas with such drama pushing himself to the limits to produce a performance of exhausting emotion while Chris Dilley as Pontius Pilate and Lewis Aves as apostle Peter showcased equally strong vocal performances. Tony Wilds as Caiaphas and Laura Marvell-James as Annas with their stunning facial make-up were convincingly menacing as the plotters of Jesus’ downfall.
Having never seen the show before I wasn’t sure if the Herod character was supposed to be quite so camp but Paul Allum, who is well known for playing the dame in the company’s Christmas panto, brought a much-needed dose of laughter to the performance with his portrayal of the flamboyant King. His costume is a sight for sore eyes!
It is a captivating show from start to finish with a huge cast who use every inch and height of the cleverly crafted stage. Hats off to director John McInnes, musical director Helen Cowie and choreographer Jodie Quirke.
If you want to spend two or three times the amount to go to the West End or see a professional touring company perform this musical then there is always the opportunity to do so. But there really is no need when such a stunning show is right here on our doorstep.
* The show runs until Saturday with evening performances nightly at 7.30pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. For more information visit www.dosoc.co.uk.