Fringe Box



Review: A Well Organised Jesus Christ Superstar by Guildford School of Acting Students

Published on: 4 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2013

By Tom Fowler

JCS-GSA-LOGO-JPEGIn the run up to Easter it was only right that the Guildford School of Acting presented Jesus Christ Superstar. The performance was undeniably popular, with the first night being sold out.

The musical was performed at the Ivy Arts Centre at the University of Surrey.

The reinterpretation of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s and Tim Rice’s masterpiece telling the last seven days of Jesus of Nazareth through the point of view of Judas Iscariot, met with an applauding audience.

Anna Lindstrum’s revival of the musical was a bold and confident performance, kept alive by musical director George Dyer, in an unforgettable mix of classically influenced, electro, rock and vaudeville. This was a well-organised musical.

Although the stage was small and the use of props could be considered minimalistic, the cast used both aspects well. With enduring effort the Guildford School of Acting students had the audience engaged in an ‘early imperial’ setting mixed with a post-Second World War future. Guns, dancers in corsets and King Herod in a flashy suit, performed by Hywel Dowsell, mixed well with the use of the cross, Romans in armour and the usual Kaftans and sandals attire. This was a modern interpretation of the 42-year-old play.

Cellen Jones played the role of Jesus and Sam Robinson played Judas. They both created quite the spectacle and quite the emotional rollercoaster as they told the troubled relationship between each character.

imagesAn emotionally lost and deeply disaffected Judas made the pair’s relationship feel not only physiological but political too. Although near the start of the play it was hard to hear certain lyrics, the play could have been told alone through the good use of Sam Robinson’s painful yet persuasive facial expressions and an undeniable passion for emotion, expressed through the eyes and hands of Cellen Jones.

While the singing by both Jesus and Judas didn’t come close to the vocals of stars such as Ian Gillan and Murray Head on the original album of the musical, the attempt was worthy of high praise and came close to that superstar feeling.

The play still made use of the great and unforgettable lyrics of the musical, one being: “Did you know your messy death would be a record breaker.”

Mary Magdalene, played by Christina Bennington, was portrayed perfectly, a woman looking for the love of Jesus. Her vocals were a power of talent and came across very charismatically. The priests came across as dark and sinister, helped by a dusky stage setting. The evil-like stature mainly came across through great costumes and some rather unusual deep voices.

The dancers of the show performed elegantly, with graceful body movement, a good sense of rhythm and a true understanding of the art form.

The biggest highlight of the performance had to be the musical performance. Never before had eyes seen such an eccentric director and pianist. George Dyer kept his small team of artists on the ball with fabulous timing. The scene most credible was of Judas’s payment. As the bag dropped into his hands from the priests, it was followed by the perfect clash of instruments, just as it hit.

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