|JCS crit with a tiny mention of me.
||[Jul. 13th, 2006|03:36 pm]
Superstar cast bring magic to musical theatre
July 3, 2006
Jesus Christ Superstar. Directed by Paul Warwick Griffin. Musical direction by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder. Choreography by Timothy le Roux. Design by Keith Anderson. Featuring Cito, Robert Finlayson, Anton Luitingh, Candida Mosoma, Rowan Cloete, Graham Bourne and full cast. At Theatre on the Bay until August 6.
One of the best moments in theatre must surely be when an opening scene takes you to yet another magical space.
But too often magical opening scenes are not enough to sustain a production. It could even mean a production's downfall if it is not able to live up to that magical opening. Jesus Christ Superstar is magical throughout - every note and every movement.
It links all the right elements of musical theatre beautifully, from its meticulously considered set design by Keith Anderson to the ravishing lighting design by Jannie Swanepoel.
What I particularly enjoy about Theatre on the Bay's productions is how a fairly small theatre is used maximally; they are able to stage one-person shows and make the stage space work wondrously. And then there's this production - traditionally associated with a big theatre experience.
This team turns that experience into an intimate relationship without losing an iota of the big experience. This is in itself already a magical moment.
Jesus Christ Superstar is as good as musical theatre can be, not just in South Africa but globally. Technical stuff aside, the production is perfectly cast and runs as slickly as any world-class musical should.
This production's casting is all about contrasts - of characters, and even of paradoxes within characters. (It has been said that JCS is one of the most difficult musicals to cast.)
Cito is an exquisite Jesus - striking and delicate in demeanour, and discerning and cultivated as a singer
. I have heard it said that when an actor performs this role he is never the same again. It is as if a celestial spirit lives within them. Cito is every inch mystical.
What a delight to see Robert Finlayson on a Cape Town stage again. In the role of Judas, he is another ideal casting - audacious and burly contrasted well with his softer, more tender side.
Anton Luitingh was born to be in musical theatre. Yet again, he does a superb job in the role of Pontius Pilate. Some of the ensemble performers should take a page out of this brilliant performer's book about diction and how to up their game to crystal clarity a la Luitingh.
As Mary Magdalene, Candida Mosoma is a revelation. She brings an originality and adds a spot of feminine glitter to an otherwise very male-dominated affair.
Rowan Cloete and Graham Bourne are other noteworthy performers. The ensemble of choral voices and dancers include the very agreeable Duane Alexander, Izak Davel and Candice von Listenborgh. As a full cast, this is definitely one of the best-looking ones that one is likely to see on a stage, by the way.
The most disappointing part of this magical evening was the
audience. They were so tentative (or should that be retentive?) in their appreciation of fine artistry. After-theatre speculation ranged from the intensity of the show to comments about Cape Town audiences "just being like that".
Whatever the reasons might be, Jesus Christ Superstar, in my humble opinion, richly deserves its standing ovations.
And, it wouldn't hurt if you applaud this team's efforts with some cheers throughout the show - they need it to be inspired to even greater heights, if this is even possible with this splendid production.