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Reviews

Jesus Christ Superstar


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July 24, 2019

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical masterpiece Jesus Christ Superstar has been resurrected in Bournemouth! This year, BBLOC have returned to the Pavilion stage with a rock opera of biblical proportions. The show gives the four gospels a star-studded makeover as it retells the last week of Jesus’ life complete with evocative lyrics, memorable rifts and the occasional nod to modern sensibilities. With multiple award wins and nominations throughout its professional history (including the Laurence Olivier Award for ‘Best Musical Revival’ in 2017), BBLOC had a lot to live up to; a challenge they accepted with intoxicating enthusiasm.

Alongside established production manager Duncan Hook, Helen Barrington returns to direct her third sequential show for BBLOC after audience favourite Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2018) and visual tour de force Priscilla Queen of the Desert (2017) with another feast for the senses. The combination of shadow, light and colour from an originally greyscale and deceptively complicated set compliments the exhilarating score which is performed and conducted immaculately by musical director Ian Peters and his orchestra. BBLOC’s Jesus Christ certainly offers audiences an evocative cornucopia of imagery, music and powerful performances from an exceptionally talented cast.

None more so than Charles Michael Duke in the role of the troubled Judas Iscariot. Charles has already received massive acclaim in the press following his double lung transplant in May 2018. His performance tonight demonstrates how amazing human resilience is; and, thanks to our NHS, I was honoured to have the opportunity to watch what he does best. With incredibly strong vocals, a commanding stage presence and infectious characterisation, Charles is an astounding and inspirational performer; a credit to not only BBLOC but the musical theatre industry as he demonstrates never give up.

Equally incredible are Matthew Traher as Jesus and Kirstie Rogers as Mary Magdalene. Matthew’s vocal range was tested and triumphed in ‘Gethsemane’ as he hits notes impossible for many. He manages to capture Jesus Christ as not the biblical icon but as human; with perfectly executed emotion and mannerisms throughout. Meanwhile, Kirstie’s diction and lyricism are flawless with audience favourite ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ the most memorable act one number.

The leads are complimented by a talented and enthusiastic supporting cast and ensemble who all come into their own in act two. Whilst act one of this sung-through musical could have been difficult to follow with lyrics sometimes tricky to pick out, the second act reminded me why audiences love BBLOC. ‘King Herod’s Song,’ performed by the accomplished Lea Martin, provided much needed comic relief before culminating in the seminal smash hit ‘Superstar,’ well-choreographed by Heather Davis. Unfortunately, a technical hitch halted proceedings during this finale sequence, but I was more than happy to enjoy the song twice with the gaffe testifying to the professionalism and dedication of the performers.

A special mention to Janine Long’s costume design and wardrobe whose modern versus archaic take worked well for the ensemble, whilst the grey shades in Jesus’ and Judas’ costumes gave a nice metaphor for these characters’ layered personalities. Similarly, aided by an impressive lighting plot, the ‘Superstar’ sequence bathed in white is easily the most visually stimulating in the entire show.

BBLOC has done it again with an evocative musical guaranteed to appeal to your inner rock star. There are certainly multiple ‘superstars’ in this show, all of whom will go far in the performance industry. Congratulations to a superb company and thank you for a magnificent show.

Jemma Cable


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Bournemouth Daily Echo

July 25, 2019

A GROUP of local superstars laid on an impressive production of one of the world’s most famous musicals at Bournemouth Pavilion last night.

Bournemouth and Boscombe Light Opera Company (BBLOC) chose Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar for their annual show.

The 1970s spectacular follows the last weeks of Jesus’ life and was a Broadway and film hit.

Special mentions must go to those in the roles of Jesus (Matthew Traher) and Judas (Charles Michael Duke) for their heart wrenching performances.

Both parts entail several solos and a grisly death scene, which the two actors carried off well.

Traher’s finest number was the touching Gethsemane when, weighed down by responsibilities and the world’s worries, he talks to God.

Mary Magdalene (Kirstie Rogers) also displayed great talent, especially on the classic I Don’t Know How to Love Him and the gentle Everything’s Alright.

King Herod’s Song was a glorious bit of camp, and the chorus cannot be faulted for their many different incarnations and dance routines.

Unfortunately a technical hitch forced a brief hiatus shortly before the crucial crucifixion scene.

Hats off to the cast and crew, though, for getting back on track as soon as possible and picking up where they had left off.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable night’s entertainment and a fantastic advert for amateur dramatics.

Get your tickets quick!

Harriet Marsh


NODA

July 24, 2019

I first fell in love with this classic Rock Opera after seeing the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar when it released in 1974, whilst I was serving in Germany with the British Army. You could say I was hooked because not long afterwards I managed to find an LP of the Film sound track, in a German shop, which I very nearly wore out over the next few years. This was long before I had even heard of the world of amateur theatre and NODA

Over the years I have managed to see several excellent theatre productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and I was eagerly looking forward to seeing this BBLOC production.  I was certainly not disappointed because it was a very impressive show.

The orchestra sounded absolutely superb throughout. The introduction to the crucifixion scene was magnificent and unfortunately, because of a technical hitch, the show was stopped briefly, but we had pleasure of hearing the excellent music twice.

I think this production had some of the best singing that I have ever heard in this theatre. The chorus made a wonderful sound. Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod all sang superb, all three had excellent diction, so we could clearly hear every word.  Charles Michael Duke (Judas) and Matthew Traher (Jesus) both delivered outstanding vocal performances. Gethsemane was in a class of its own, and sang with great emotion.

The modern set, mainly steps and roster, generally worked well, the costumes looked very effective and the lighting plot was excellent

Personally I would have preferred to see Jesus with longer hair and perhaps a bit of beard, but that is just my opinion

This production may not have achieved the capacity audiences that BBLOCs two previous productions at this venue managed “Pricilla Queen of the Desert” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, but it was another excellent show and the cast certainly deserved the standing ovation that they received on the opening night.

Brian Oliver

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Encore Reviews

July 25, 2019

Bournemouth and Boscombe Light Opera Company are no strangers to putting on spectacular productions and tonight was no exception! It’s very easy to forget that this group of local performers are only amateur - a testament to the leaders and mentors in the driving seat! With well-known songs including ‘Superstar’, ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’, ‘Everything’s Alright’ and the dramatic ‘Gethsemane’, this 1970s iconic rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber lyricist Tim Rice, tells a story which has echoed through the ages and is still relevant today.

Although not one of my favourite works of Andrew Lloyd Webber, I was keen to see BBLOC’s version of this legendary musical. They did not disappoint! Two principals stood out from the very beginning. Charles Michael Duke (Judas) was the star of the show, displaying his impressive vocal range and acting ability throughout the production. Incredibly worthy of any West-End stage! Kirstie Rogers (Mary Magdalene) provided strong support and delivered a beautiful rendition of ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’. Together, they were backed up by a diverse company who were slick and impeccably rehearsed.

Behind every great production is a strong creative team. It was a pleasure to listen to the orchestra under the arrangement and direction of Ian Peters (Musical Director). An incredibly professional quality, and certainly the best I’ve seen in the South for a while. Heather Davis (Choreographer/Dance Captain) brought out the very best of each performer whilst using the set and levels to a creative advantage. A credit to BBLOC! A special mention must go to Helen Barrington (Director) who has pulled together a superb team, both on and off stage and created an incredibly high standard of theatre.

BBLOC is a “superstar” here in the South, and I’m already looking forward to their next production.


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Max and Mummy

July 25, 2019

This rock opera based on the last week of Jesus' life before crucifixion is a hard show to pull off. Vocally it stretches and challenges every cast member and for a show with very little dialogue, it's a fast paced one too. But let me tell you that it didn't phase this cast one bit. Ever the professionals, this group of actors could have walked straight off the west end stage. In fact, as I was leaving I heard an audience member tell a friend that she wished she hadn't purchased tickets for the current west end revival as BBLOC's performance was so good!

The principals and ensemble were nothing less than brilliant. Taking direction from Helen Barrington (who directed previous BBLOC hits amongst other things) the cast performed each song with roaring applause and stunned the crowd with amazing visuals that I don't want to spoil for anyone going to see the show. With high energy from the moment the music started, you couldn't help but feel swept away in the emotion of the whole show and I was glued to my seat throughout. Even with a technical hitch in the second half, you couldn't help be sit transfixed through the whole show.

Matthew Traher did a stunning performance as Jesus wowing the audience with his vocal range in songs such as Gethsemane and The Last Supper. His songs with both Judas and Mary showed the audience just how fantastic his stage presence was and his crucifixion scene was visually stunning. It left the audience gasping! Kirstie Rogers blew me away as Mary Magdalene with her soft yet powerful portrayal with songs such as Everything's Alright and I Don't Know How To Love Him.

But the star of the show had to be Judas who was played by Charles Michael Duke. You could say I'm biased as he's a friend of mine, but even the audience agreed that he was beyond outstanding. Belting out each and every word, you could feel the passion and emotion in his voice. His rendition of Judas's Death was simply stunning and visually brilliant. For someone that only a year ago was recovering from a double lung transplant, it was amazing to see just how far he had come to get back on stage. If you want one reason why organ donation is so important, then watching his performance in this show is it!

Overall Jesus Christ Superstar is a fantastic show from start to finish. Leaving the theatre knowing you have watched an amateur cast really makes you wonder if the west end need to up their game as these guys have truly stunned local crowds! BBLOC never fail to put on an utterly brilliant show year after year. All I can think now is how will they top it next year? Only time will tell.

Laura


BH Living

July 25, 2019

A superstar cast brought this lively fast-paced show to life on the stage in Bournemouth.

As an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan, this show is one I unfortunately haven’t seen before, but I am happy that Bournemouth and Boscombe Light Opera Company (BBLOC) were the ones to bring it to my eyes and ears.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a Rock Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, based on the story of the last week of Jesus’s life, from the perspective of Judas.

The staging is magnificent, with moving parts and stunning lighting, although there was a slight technical difficulty with this at one point towards the end which caused a very short pause in the show, but this was dealt with calmly and professionally, a credit to their team.

Professional is also a word I would use to describe the cast as a whole. They all gave enthusiastic, and at times emotional performances, with great energy. And they all seem well-rehearsed and committed to their roles.

Lead, Matthew Traher, as Jesus, gave such an amazing vocal performance, particularly in the song Gethsemane, it gave me chills. The emotion that he portrayed, even just in his face alone, is a testament to his acting skills.

Kirstie Rogers also gave a beautiful performance as Mary Magdalene, with a great rendition of the iconic song I Don’t Know How To Love Him.

Special mention of course goes to Charles Michael Duke for his portrayal of Judas, a challenging and really tough role to play, especially after having a double lung transplant only last year. His voice is phenomenal, and just his performance overall was enthralling.

Members of the audience applauded and cheered loudly, sat in stunned silence at the harrowing final scenes, and gave a standing ovation as the cast took to the stage for a curtain call.

It’s definitely a show to see at least once in your life time. And BBLOC put on such a great performance that I would highly recommend seeing this particular production.

Maddi Selfe


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