With music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar has become a staple in musical theatre repertoire since its inception in 1970. In the true meaning of “rock opera”, the show is a juxtaposition of rock songs with dramatic storytelling in the manner traditionally associated with opera. The result is a complex piece of theatre which flows seamlessly from one number to the next, as the audience follow the story loosely based on the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ last week on Earth.

Gateway Theatre Productions has assembled a cast of professional and non-professional performers who rose to the occasion, creating an enjoyable and polished performance on the opening night of their inaugural show. The production was modern and fresh, which will hopefully pique the interest of a new generation of theatre goers.

The static set was simple and efficient, allowing an almost seamless flow from song to song. The direction by Thomas Armstrong-Robley and the choreography by Maureen Bowra made particularly good use of the set and stage, and Bowra’s choreography was a highlight in the ensemble numbers.

Reality television show stars Altiyan Childs and Frank Lakoudis were convincing as Jesus and Judas respectively, and it was a treat for the audience to witness the two perform side by side. The roles of Jesus and Judas are both incredibly vocally-demanding, and it was great to see the performers making smart choices to highlight their respective vocal strengths. It was however, seasoned performers Lionel Theunissen (Pilate) and Dale Pengelly (King Herod) who stole the show. Theunissen’s powerful portrayal of Pilate was a high point of the second act in the lead up to the 39 Lashes (Trial by Pilate), and Pengelly’s ‘mad’ performance in King Herod’s Song was a welcomed song and dance spectacle. 

No good production of Jesus Christ Superstar would be complete without impressive ensemble vocals and a fantastic band. Lucas D. Lynch has achieved just that.

Unfortunately the opening night performance was affected by technical issues concerning sound clarity and balance which sometimes made it difficult to understand lyrics, and to consistently hear many of the acoustic band instruments and on-stage ensemble vocal harmonies. Despite the technical teething issues, the cast and band were energetic and exuded passion for their production. The energy and enthusiasm was infectious and the show was well-received.

Congratulations to Gateway Theatre Productions on a solid and thoroughly entertaining production – it’s exciting to see a new company bringing theatre to the Sunshine Coast!

The show runs until 5th November at The Events Centre, Caloundra. Tickets are available at http://www.theeventscentre.com.au

Written by Julie Whiting

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