At Glasgow (the cavernous SECC) last night to see the new stageshow of Jesus Christ Superstar, on a national tour. This was a birthday present from my daughters Beth and Anna. Since Joan was away in Leicester with work, Anna agreed to come with me – it’s great to be the father of daughters!!
Monday’s Guardian had tanked the show (from the O2 performance) in a highly critical review but despite being about 100 yards from the stage and having my view restricted by a nest of massive hanging speakers, I was moved and inspired by the production. Some of the highlights were: the setting – forget Israel under the Romans (though the lyrics were kept), the stage was a set of steps leading up to a nameless Bank, with Jesus’ followers as members of the Occupy movement, Annas and Caiphas as grey-besuited bankers and Pilate as a High Court judge; the visuals projected on the rear of the stage, allowing those far away to see the faces of the performers up close; the carefully crafted words, familiar but always so many new insights to be gained; the clashing raucous music, with its screamy high notes, balanced with melodic arias, set off by a brilliant electric guitar and some interesting brass; the sound – so clear despite the echoing concrete barn that is Hall No. 4 of the SECC; the spontaneous cheers of the crowd for the excellent solo performances – even cheering Judas’ death! Ben Forster, the people’s choice as Jesus, stood up well, with a convincing performance. While much of the attention no doubt goes on Tim Minchin’s Judas and Chris Moyles’ Herod, it was Alex Hanson as Pilate and Pete Gallagher as Caiaphas who matched voice to character best. But I’ve kept the best to last.
Spice Girl Mel C’s Mary Magdalene was my highlight – she caught the confused vulnerabilty of the part and sang with depth and intensity: I Don’t Know How To Love Him and Could We Start Again Please – great songs sung beautifully.