The Tough Life Of A Carpenter Demonstrated at Theatre Severn

Shrewsbury Amateur Operatic Society

Jesus Christ Superstar

Theatre Severn

Wednesday 12th-Saturday 15th June (Matinee 14.30 Saturday)


Back in the day there was a big buzz on London stages. They had gone musical theatre mad for a while but Rogers and Hammerstein soon finished providing the shows that our parents loved. Then Wow, didn’t the Musical take off? Probably it’s the most successful genre to appear on those stages and of course throughout the provinces too. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice met each other and a whole new provider of the insatiable genre was born.

Jesus Christ Superstar, was one of their  earlier works and it certainly was grittier than Joseph, dealing with the cultism of Christ, his followers and his final betrayal and the crucifixion of the Lord. Quite a lot to be going on with I am sure you agree. That is all I should say of the story as I don’t believe there will be many in the audience hearing it all for the first time.

So how did this massive show handle with this amateur troupe? In 0ne word I should say magnificently.

Musically one can really hear the hard work that has gone into preparing the score. Musical director Steve Roberts has breathed new fresh life into the music and one struggles in believing that this modern, fresh and exciting music is really half a century old. The music is a crucial as it is the motor that drives the show. This music has a full MOT and drives along beautifully.

The singing was astonishing, more of that presently. The staging whilst minimalistic cleverly worked perfectly giving depth and height to the stage all at once when-ever needed.

Staged in a dystopian land where society has worn thin of the current politics and current leaders…sound familiar? So staging this dateless, timeless story today works perfectly well. One wonders if there was a Jesus and if he did come back today how would he be received. He’s probably been back loads, it’s just we’ve never believed him?

David Sudlow’s Jesus is a tremendous performance. A true pro . Great singing voice, a really good look and without a single word of dialogue, he gave us a character so well rounded, one felt such pity for him and the stoical way he faced his fate. He also stoically performed like a real trooper when his mic starting to intemittently work. Whilst the tech gurus were fixing it, he carried on his song without, splendid work!

Judas Iscarriot (Crayg Wellbeloved) was again beautifully sung and the character was found expertly giving the old traitor a really three dimensional rounded character. One might be tempted to lose the tattoo sleeve as it look false and was unnecessary. However that didn’t detract from a great performance.

Mary Magdalene (Ros Hodges) Found her character so well, poor girl in love with a man who terrifies her. Her story is one of tragedy and Ros’ strong voice gave us that feeling of loss and frustration she felt about him.

Caiphas (Andy Wright) Has a bass voice so deep one imagines it starts somewhere under the stage and comes out at the top of his boots. Such depth and yet coming with guaranteed control and quality. Not easy, he does it well!

Benjamin Connor’s Herod had the audience in stitches he is hilarious. The campest most hilarious Herod this reviewer has ever seen it had us all hooting. Brilliant!

Daniel Wrench’s Pontius Pilate was so wonderfully played. He saw no harm in Jesus probably thought him a bit of a nuisance but nothing more, but the crowd wanted blood. The lashes scene was extremely well done and one could feel the pain on the Lord’s back.

One of the problems that presented and can be easily overcome is the issue of upstaging. This happens on a stage too small for its cast. There were times when the smallest dancers couldn’t be seen at all as they were on the back row and upstage by the bigger people in front. It is unavoidable in many instances but cast members also have a certain responsibility when it comes to being seen. There was one little dancer she was so small at times she was only noticeable by a big flag she had on a stick. Difficult to avoid at times; but worth bearing in mind.

That said the dancers were great. They always are fascinating as they are marking and counting all the time. The make it look easy with their smiles but one is aware there is a vast amount of work going on. Well done to all of you for that!

It seems to this reviewer that the combination of Director Roger Ashford, Musical Director, Steve Roberts and Choreographer Debbie Ashford have forged a great working relationship and the fruit of their labours is there for the plucking all week with a matinee on Saturday. Go and have a look it is a great show and given the fact it is homespun Shrewsbury ought to be very proud of this able cast and their excellent show.

This is A Four Star Review

Owen J. Lewis


Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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