Left - (l-r) Luke Kennedy and Danny Lopresto
The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA put passion into the Passion Play with its production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Both exuberant and vigorous, it’s a fine modern translation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1970s rock opera that captures the guise and texture of the original. This new rendering not only features terrific performances from its young leads but it also strips out the hippy aspects of the initial production in favour of more overt 21st century styling and characteristics.
In lesser hands, the central relationship between Judas, Mary and Jesus might not have worked; but Danny Lopresto (Judas), Sarah Lloyde (Mary Magdalene) and Luke Kennedy (Jesus) make the complex relationships completely believable - adding a plausible quality when heaven is on their minds. Lopresto walks his own line, giving a strong performance as the conflicted Judas who knows he’ll be damned for all time but is acting for altruistic reasons. Kennedy hits the right notes as he ponders his trials and tribulations during the last week of Christs’ life, and Lloyde is magnetic as Mary as she contemplates the life changing events that surround her.
Featuring, disciplined direction by David Lampard, an impressive ensemble cast, and a superb urban set - consisting of concrete pillars and mesh fencing - this elegant and spruce musical is highly entertaining. The only weakness with the entire show is the decision to cast the roles of Caiaphas and Annas – and the other priest – as females. Louise Messenger (Caiaphas), in particular is insubstantial while Vanessa Shirley (Annas) is more significant she still isn’t commanding enough. But this is a minor flaw and is outweighed by excellent performances from Joel Valenti, especially his vocal during “Pilates Dream”, and Kent Green who plays King Herod as a TV game show host. There are other powerful pieces from the ensemble and all the key protagonists are appropriately flawed. This overcomes any doubts one might have about the priests and helps make this production well worth seeing.
G&S Society of South Australia presents
Jesus Christ Superstar
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
Director David Lampard
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide
Dates: 22 - 23 Oct at 8pm | 26 - 30 Oct at 8pm | 3 - 6 Nov at 8pm
Matinees: 23 & 30th Oct and 6 Nov at 2pm
Bookings: BASS 131 246 | www.bass.net.au