Youth theatre is always interesting to watch. It is good to see young talent in the making and what it lacks in experience it usually makes up for in exuberance. Thomas Bayliss (Herod) was a sheer delight as he went through his song and dance routine and Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilot and Judas were all very well acted. They also made great use of a curtain on to which various images of the crucifixion were projected – it was both eerie and moving. One slight criticism, the Ensemble wasn’t as cohesive as it could have been, but the musicians were set to the right of the stage and the singers could not see the conductor so that can not have helped.
When Superstar first came to our attention, it was a whole new genre of musical theatre. Until then, musicals were pretty much like dramas with tunes thrown in, actors would be speaking normally until they suddenly burst into song – sometimes it worked, sometimes it seemed a bit on the weird side. Then along came Messrs Lloyd Webber and Rice with the notion that it would be a good idea to sing the dialogue as well. Hmm… well, sometimes it works, other times it still seems a bit weird. You ask Judas, he’s the one who had to try and sing something along the lines of: “You will find him in the usual place, in the garden of Gethsemane, away from the crowds.” It takes an awful lot of “wrenching” to make that fit – and Judas looked as though the effort was torturing him (although that may have been his guilty conscience, he was betraying the son of God at the time – never the best option).
I’m not that familiar with Lloyd Webber’s back catalogue, but devoted fans tell me that he has come on leaps and bounds since Superstar, that there are far more memorable tunes in his shows these days (as opposed to just the title song) and that he’s got better at setting the dialogue to music. However, if anyone who missed Superstar the first time round wants to see what all the fuss was about, then the MYCO production is the perfect opportunity to do that – at a fraction of the London prices. MYCO is also using the opportunity to support a great cause – raising money for the Helen and Douglas House Hospices, by selling raffle tickets on the door and having a collection after the show.