Amateur theatre treads a tricky line between being a production which understands the various capabilities of its large cast, and being a slick and inventive enough show to justify charging the audiences. Bromley Players have navigated the winding world of am dram with masterful ease with Jesus Christ Superstar, and whilst I’m sure there was much stress behind the scenes at times, only passion and a love of theatre came through on stage.
The set was simple yet sinister, with the dramatic lighting capturing the mood of each scene. The levels and roaming staircases provided a great opportunity to show off the large chorus of the show, and kept energy and variety in the otherwise static set. Flames framed the stage of The Bob Hope Theatre, and helped develop the sinister tone to this Lloyd Webber show.
Robert James played a tortured and unstable Judas opposite Joby Morris’ idealistic and confused Jesus. Both men presented a masterclass in singing some of the most tricky melodies in musical theatre, and Joby’s range was something to behold, resulting in a standing ovation from the opening night audience. The menacing Caiaphas and Annas (Marston York and Chris Arden) commanded the stage and even in the particularly low notes gave a convincing performance. An understanding Pilate (Ian Chapman) offers Jesus an escape, but on a path of self destruction it is too late for our protagonist.
Nicola Henderson provided an understated and tender Mary, who along with Chris Warr as Peter gave a beautiful rendition of Could We Start Again Please?. The comedic role of the show is of course Herod, and I won’t spoil the surprise in case you are heading to The Bob Hope this week to see Bromley Players in action but nothing can quite prepare you for Mark Slaughter‘s star turn, along with a brilliant dance group, as the deranged king.
The true star of any amateur show is the chorus, who at 30 strong are the backbone of any big scene. Hosanna was joyfully and inventively choreographed by Jackie Langridge, and Superstar gave the women of the chorus a chance to stretch their pop star muscles. If anything, the chorus would benefit from a little more confidence, as they are an excellent core to this show. The Last Supper at the opening of Act 2 was serenely sung by all the apostles, whose voices blended wonderfully together and I rather enjoyed that they deviated from the now almost cliche Da Vinci esque setting of this scene.
Inevitably with any opening night, there were some teething issues and technical mishaps but nobody could fail to be impressed by the talent and dedication on show. A huge congratulations to the cast, creative and backstage teams who have worked so hard to put on this captivating musical!
Their next production will be Jason Robert Brown’s Tony Award winning musical PARADE which will be performed from 20th – 23rd April 2016.