Theatre Review: Jesus Christ Superstar

The last days of Jesus Christ are told in one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most loved rock operas, performed by students of Scotch College.


Presented by Scotch College
Reviewed 29 July 2015

Scotch College is the buzz; let me tell you what’s a-happening.

You will know how to love this production before it even begins. Entering the chapel on the grounds of Scotch College, you enter a dystopian world ruled by an organisation called F.E.A.R., whose mantra to you is to obey and consume.

A solo electric guitarist sits beneath a disturbing animated billboard, playing to no one in particular, shadowed either side by scaffolding and red banners reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

This is the setting for director Adam Goodburn’s modernised adaptation of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera about the final days of Jesus Christ. It’s striking, ominous, mystifying and captivating from first glance.

Enter the cast and none disappoint. It seems a true miracle to find so much talent in one school. As Jesus, 16 year old Ben Francis has a bigger range than most professionals, while Tom Russell is utterly commanding as Judas. In the role of Mary Magdelene, the voice of Hannah Hamilton was Heaven-sent, although she alternates the role with Paris Anderson.

The role of Herod, no longer a King in this production, tap dances her way to success in the guise of young Tayla Coad, while Kyle Hall and Jordan Tomljenovic lead the 12 Apostles as Peter and Simon respectively.

It’s a sin not to mention all the cast by name but with over 40 on stage, it’s also an impossibility. Suffice to say Lachlan Williams as Pontius Pilate, Samuel Burt as Caiaphas, and Emma Trumble as Annas, not only do a fantastic job too, but are ably supported by the all-singing, all-dancing ensemble and about a dozen musicians.

Sadly, the wonderful band often drown out the cast, making most of the lyrics unintelligible throughout the show, but this is a very common issue with this play due to the heavy nature of the score. Not even microphones could raise most voices above the backing of the louder songs.

Goodburn uses the space well and manages to avoid the appearance of overcrowding despite the large cast. Antony Hubmayer should be congratulated as the Musical Director for bringing such a difficult score to life and particularly for his work bringing the young cast up to such a high standard of singing. Linda Williams’ choreography cleverly echoes ‘70s dance moves without making it feel retro in the modernised setting.

The most striking feature of the show is the large animated backdrop which segues from slogans to psychedelic patterns to moonlit nights. It’s stunning to behold yet enhances the action instead of pulling focus. Full credit to animators Richard Blinco, Michael Roberts, and everyone else involved in putting it together.

Everything’s Alright in this show except the sound levels but they’re sure to be Damned for All Time for having such an inexcusably short season.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Where: Fisher Chapel, Scotch College, Carruth Road, Torrens Park
When: 29 July – 1 August 2015
Tickets: $15 – $30
Bookings: Book online through the Scotch College website or phone 8274 4210

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