The annual May musical by South Coast Choral and Arts Society is always a big, ambitious, crowd-pleasing affair.
This year’s production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s classic rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar is undoubtedly big and ambitious and despite the chorus of disapproval from some quarters of this community,
I’ve no doubt this show will not only please the crowds that attend, but it will be an out and out rocking success!
The fact that a 40-year-old musical based on the life of Jesus is still causing some controversy is the least interesting thing about this production. I was lucky enough to attend the preview performance on Sunday, May 3, and I was struck by a lot of other things about this show that are far more interesting and exciting.
What is really interesting is that we have a young man in our community who possesses the kind of talent needed to perform the role of Jesus. Robert Bell is charismatic, impassioned and vivid in his portrayal of the Son of God. He sings from his guts and feels from his heart and when he finally rises on that cross, the suffering and fear he conveys is truthful.
What is really interesting is that we have a young woman in our community who can sing into being all the wretched torment, confusion and guilt of Judas in a way that is sincerely affecting. Penny Smith’s performance is raw and powerful and spirited. Just as it should be.
What is really interesting is that we have a young woman willing to journey into our community to share her angelic voice and her beautifully focused performance. Zoe Tammita as Mary Magdalene demonstrates the kind of talent that would not be out of place on the professional stage. I could have listened to her sing all day.
And you know what else is interesting? The chorus of singers and dancers seem to shine with the joy of performing this show. The energy and commitment they possess flowed from the stage and out over the audience in that Town Hall. Performances by Kim Bell as Pilate, Richard Greig as Herod, Jenny Penny as Annas are also powerful, nuanced and committed. And the music is fantastic! The band has to be the heart and soul of this show and there is no doubt they play their hearts and souls out.
You know, there’s plenty to be upset by in this ragged world. There are plenty of things that we should be insulted by. But please don’t find insult here, among these good people, for none is intended. They have spent months and weeks and days and hours pulling Jesus Christ Superstar together, not for fame or money but for the pure unadulterated joy of it.
They love what they do and they want to share that love with us. And after all, isn’t that what He wanted?