I know I’ve spoken in previous blog posts about how when I’m watching a show, I find it very hard not to find fault. This weekend I watched Encore Theatre Company’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and whilst I don’t retract my original statement, I’m going to amend it. Having spent so many years on the stage myself, I know it’s very rare to have NOTHING go wrong in a show. Whether it’s you yourself that messes up, a cast member, a bit of costume that falls off, a forgotten prop, problematic set changes that take too long, a bum note from the band…there are many. So I get it, things aren’t always perfect, I think I’ve only come off stage at the end of a show ONCE in my life and gone ‘Yes. That was it. It couldn’t have gone any better.’ But sometimes, a production is SO good, you’re able to overlook those couple of weaker points in a show. JCS was one of those rare times.
Even though it’s an amateur company, it really was airing on the side of professional, and I’m not the only one to think it; I heard many comments from other audience members as we left, about how professional it was. From the overall show down to the ushers. The set and lights alone got you talking when you entered the theatre.
JCS is a one of those shows that’s completely open to interpretation, and the few versions I’ve seen have been completely different. This take had a bohemian rock kinda thing going on and personally, I loved it. It totally suited the performers and the choices they made (vocally and physically) and it was a really refreshing way of seeing it done.
The lighting was done beautifully (I’ve always been a sucker for good tech), in a way that completely suited the style of the show. It was obvious that there’d been lots of discussions between all members of the creative team to ensure all understood the director’s vision, and that understanding really just finished it off nicely.
A shoutout HAS to go to my 3 favourite performances. To Ed Leigh as Jesus, Dale Vaughan as Judas, and Paul Forsberg as Pontius Pilate. There were some stand out performances from the entire cast, Sarah Clarkson was giving LIFE as Mary Magdalene and the beautiful tenor tones of Michael Frith created the strongest Annas I’ve seen live. But for me, those 3 were stand out performances. All 3 committed 110%, made the character their own, and portrayed them in a new and beautifully accurate way. Although I may be biased, there’s no denying Ed Leigh stole the show with a powerful and heartbreaking performance of Jesus. I wasn’t the only one sobbing.
Sending my congratulations to the entire Encore team, that was a knock out show.
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(Photo Credit: Nicole Walton Photography)