In the knowledge that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera classic, Jesus Christ Superstar, was beginning its 50th anniversary celebrations, with numerous professional productions taking place across the globe, as a Sacred Heart school, we knew Woldingham had to be a part of this historic moment. After three months of intense rehearsals with our dedicated cast of Sixth Form performers, the last seven days in the life of Jesus Christ came to awe inspiring realisation on the 5 and 6 of December 2019.
From the very first notes of the overture, the sinuous and ominous electric guitar solo (played by Jess) set the scene. Then, in a sudden burst of activity, the cast stormed the stage with boundless energy, grabbing the audience’s attention and promising that this would be an unforgettable production. A promise that was never broken.
Traditionally the production is presented solely through the eyes of Judas (Tara), a man desperate to make Jesus (Katie) see the potential threats that lie ahead. As a company, we chose to take this further. Initially with the addition of modern parallels, such as the news report video feeds and modern clothing and also by establishing that the ensemble characters held more of the responsibility for Jesus’s death. This was evident in the highly intimidating and uncomfortable 39 lashes scene: one by one, the entire cast whipped Jesus with their bare hands until the final note was played. This left all of them with blood on their hands – and the audience stunned.
The seamless, electric choreography, pitch perfect vocals and dynamic acting from the amazing cast from beginning to end, supported by a professional touring set, heavenly backing vocals, a band to rival any West End orchestra pit and expert technical theatrical operations, had the audience rising to their feet on both nights. We have also received some lovely messages from audience members:
“This wasn’t a school production – this was a professional production.”
“Would not have looked out of place in London’s West End.”
“It’s performances like this that puts the school on the map.”
This production of Jesus Christ Superstar moved all who experienced it – cast, creatives, musicians and audience. It was an absolute triumph and a true testament to the limitless capabilities of Woldingham girls.
Miss Stacey Williams, Director of Drama (and the fabulous director of Jesus Christ Superstar)