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Friday, August 29

I love it when websites dissect lyrics. I went looking for some Tim Rice lyrics to try to find out where the version of Jesus Christ Superstar I saw last night came from. What I found was this religious site which attempts to explain why the show is "Satan's opinion on Christ". I'm sure that Tim Rice would be impressed that his lyrics were taken so much to heart, even if the reaction was negative. I'd recommend reading their analysis of the lyrics. What's interesting is that, when you read the lyrics without their religious dogma, you realise that they almost entirely disprove the points that they're being quoted to illustrate. Perhaps you need a bit of prior knowledge of the show to get that, but trust me on this if you don't immediately see it.

The production I saw last night was impressive in many ways. To think that they got over 100 kids to do a difficult show after only two weeks' rehearsal is incredible. The problems they had with the end result were caused by:
  1. Not enough male members of the cast - the sound was quite tinkly
  2. The standard amateur production problem of songs not opening with strong first notes - though it was not too noticeable
  3. A Judas without the range to hit the high notes
  4. One or two minor principals who didn't have strong singing abilities
  5. Jesus lost some of his momentum because he isn't experienced enough to make the long-sustained notes... plus the orchestra was dragging some of the songs which made it harder for them all
  6. An orchestra which didn't have any strings - this killed the final number, which is meant entirely for strings as an instrumental over the dead crucified Jesus
  7. Dramatic motivation - some of the staging and choreography lost the point of the characters' intent... only a small amount, which is a shame, because they had so much amazing work - to get just a handful of details glaringly wrong is silly. In addition, people should think about the lyrics they are singing and phrase them to make sense. The rhythm of the tune can be adjusted slightly to accommodate making sense of the words - you're not just reciting a song, you're acting!
  8. Their ending - intended as an upbeat curtain call... it was wrong - it brought the cast onto the stage, but that could have been done differently. "Could we start again please" was the song they got wrong in context (dramatically) and it didn't fit its task as a curtain call.
The verdict - pretty damned good. I was disappointed that it could not be excellent, since they had the raw material for it to be excellent in most respects. I felt the standing ovation that some people gave was undeserved for the final result, though I have the utmost admiration to the group for achieving what they did.

God I'm turning into a harsh reviewer.


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