It’s astonishing to think Jesus Christ Superstar first hit the stage 50 years ago when you watch Clive Brill’s reimagining of this iconic rock opera by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Packed to the gills with creative ingenuity this is a show worthy of any London stage and to find it in a tent in Frinton-on-Sea is mind-blowing.
Opening with Jesus being portrayed as a vain cult-leader, Tim Rogers is the role to perfection with his handsome looks and aloof swagger. Enter Judas (Hugh Maynard) who’s set to bring Jesus down by betraying him to Caiaphas (Jad Habchi). Unfortunately for Jesus, despite the deep love and care from Mary (Rebecca Birch), and his followers, Judas in a delicate kiss, betrays Jesus to his enemies and seals his death with his lips.
Despite being a small theatre, this is a big production. The choir, members of The Frinton Jupiter Singers and The London Show Choir, along with the band are exceptional in their musical magic. The choreography and costumes along with the props are of the highest calibre and provide an absolute visual feast. Unlike what you may expect from a pop-up tent by the sea, this is a high energy exuberant show that will have you swivelling your eyeballs so fast you’ll feel dizzy from all the action.
And when it comes to action – this is a seriously action-packed show. The artistic direction of some of the scenes (especially the curing of the lepers and King of the Jews) verged on a wild mania of mind-boggling proportions that made you wonder if somebody had slipped something into your drink! I’m sure they were as much fun to create as they were for the audience to watch.
The word ‘innovative’ is often over-used, mis-used and abused, but this production really does feel as though the reins were cut loose – completely and flailing in the sea breeze! – and creativity was allowed to run amok, snowballing all energy and a colossal maelstrom of ideas to generate a performance of imagination and originality.
As a musical lover, it’s strange that for so long this five-decades’ old show has escaped me given the countless shows I’ve watched. But I can only sincerely say: the wait was worth it. Brill has created an ingenious version of Jesus Christ Superstar and I hope many more audiences get to appreciate the wonder of this performance.
Frinton Summer Theatre is a fantastic opportunity for local audiences to experience the thrill and creativity of professional productions by the sea. I look forward to the 2023 season with excitement, and if you haven’t been yet, I urge you to pay a visit.
Running until September 4th at The Greensward Tent, Frinton-on-sea. https://www.frintonsummertheatre.org/
Reviewer: Samantha Collett
Reviewed: 31st August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★