Jesus Christ Superstar – Louth Playgoers – Revew by Frances Brindle

 

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I’m absolutely delighted that even though I’m still away in the USA I am able to publish a review for this great show via a wonderful friend from Louth Playgoers (LPG), Frances Brindle, for their current production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Rock Opera, in Riverhead Theatre, Louth from 17th to 27th May.

Frances is usually onstage for the musicals but as well as performing for LPS she’s been Assistant Director, Producer and taken Choreographer roles.  She’s also on the marketing team and is on the Board of Directors. You can also find her smiley face in the box office from time to time!!!

Frances next  LPS project is Once Upon a Time, the summer concert on August 12th where she’s Producer and choreographer.

Over to you Fran…

Having not been involved in this years musical (an odd feeling!) I thought I’d embrace being on the other side and I’d review it.

Not being a massive fan of Jesus Christ Superstar, hence not being part of the show, I can’t say I wasn’t looking forward to the show, but my reason for going was to support the cast who have worked so hard to produce it.

And a huge amount of hard work has gone into it. I’ve heard first hand that there’s literally been blood sweat and tears, and that was just building the set! Bob Booth and his crew have produced the largest construction our stage has ever seen. With giant steps, platforms, trapdoors, and multi levels, the immense presence of it is the first thing you notice when the curtains go back. It is utilised in so many different ways, which I won’t spoil, but the cast are constantly all over this giant structure making full use of the dynamics this set has to offer.

The most striking thing about this show was that everyone on that stage was fully invested in it and committed to providing a great performance. It was lovely to see so many new faces on the stage too, I hope they’ve loved it enough to join us in the forthcoming season.

The wardrobe team must be congratulated for their efforts because you could quite happily believe you were in biblical times, which is no easy feat when you have to source clothes in a modern society. They were tasteful, suited and my favourite part was that there were so many colours on that stage but they weren’t super bright and they fitted the show perfectly. The use of scarves and shawls was an excellent addition to each costume and I’m sure it aided the cast in defining their characters.

Colours for me played an important role in this show, Pilate in purple typically an “evil” colour, Herod’s glamorous gold, and Judas in Red which is essentially an angry colour and in the scene where he’s fighting his inner demons under the red lighting and wearing a red costume absolutely took the audience on a journey of his mind set.

The lighting in the whole show was very atmospheric and the use of candles to create a hazy glow in certain scenes definitely worked for me. There’s something to be said for emotional scenes portrayed in the flicker of candlelight.

The show is full of strong voices but the trio of Jesus (Jody McCutcheon) Mary Magdalene (Evie Dodds) and Judas (Rik Hardenberg) carry the show along at a pace which tells the story beautifully yet keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, literally. Their performances are brilliant and all differently so emotive that towards the end of Act two my stomach was in knots and I still felt a bit shaky after the show. It’s intense, shocking, heart wrenching and emotional whilst still having moments of upbeat, lively fun.

The fun mostly comes from the ensemble who are the heart of this show. They never stop! They are constantly climbing up and down stairs and scaffolding, on and off the stage, and it’s their commitment to this merry dance that makes the story so believable. All whilst performing perfectly placed choreography (by Sarah Hagerup) remembering harmonies, singing and still managing to breathe!! Hats off too to Keith Weston, the Musical Director, because it takes an awful lot of work to accomplish a rock opera with no spoken lines and just pure singing, and it’s a hard sing! And a hard play for the band too who absolutely rock!

The concept of this show is still one I can’t get my head around, but a lady who has, is the Director, Sue Hamilton. She has had the enormous task of bringing this vision to reality. It has been done in such a way that not only works, but flows so much that a scene disappears before your eyes before you’ve had a chance to realise it’s gone. And it happens more than once!

For a show that I don’t like, tonight I loved it! I smiled, I clapped and I cried, it moved me so much!

So if between now and Sat 27th May you want a great night out then go and see Jesus Christ Superstar, because they’re all Superstars!

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There are some tickets left and you can get them at www.louthplaygoers.com or call Box Office on 01507 600350 open 10am-1pm Monday -Saturday.

Thank you Frances for taking the time to write this great review, I’m just very disappointed that I’m unable to see this show that I know and love, and that I was part of in the Lincoln Cathedral production in both 2015 and 2016 with some of the same cast as in this particular production.

I hope that all the cast and crew have a great rest of the run, and that everyone enjoys it as much as Frances obviously did!

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ROBERT HABERMANN: HIS WAY – The Life and Songs Of Frank Sinatra – Louth Playgoers

Friday, April 28th was something new for me.  All of the shows I’ve watched and reviewed so far have been either musical theatre or a play so to see a show that was a purely vocal performance was a little bit different.  To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from the evening. I’m not a diehard Sinatra fan, although I have a few tracks on my iPod, mostly well known songs that everyone has heard of.  But I have to say, despite not particularly looking forward to the evening, and having a few traffic problems on the way which nearly led me to turn around and go home before even getting there, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Robert Habermann took to the stage with a fabulous pianist and Musical Director, Trevor Brown, by singing one of his own numbers about the horrors of ‘mobile phones’ in theatre; very comical and definitely made the audience reach for their bags and make sure they were silent!

I couldn’t possibly name all the tracks Robert covered but during the two acts he vocalised both the songs and the life of Singer Frank Sinatra, telling stories about his time as band singer to ballad and swinging singer, and building his own record label ‘Reprise.’ It was a pleasure to hear from Robert detailing some of the highs and lows of Frank’s life, together with his wonderful musical renditions, not only of the songs that Frank made famous, but a lot of songs from his early years that aren’t quite so well known.  It was obvious that Robert had done his research and is a big fan of Sinatra, there’d be no other way of retaining so much interesting and entertaining information (without any written notes), especially the snippets about his Christmas with Ava Gardner!

Robert Habermann singer

The audience really warmed to Robert’s easy going style (representative of the Mr Sinatra style we all recognise I guess!), and they took advantage of the opportunity to join in as much as possible… even I joined in with some of the more well known songs!  It was a true delight to hear stories that gave a great insight into the legend, and with Robert’s sincere and genuine personality and beautiful vocal renditions of so many wonderful songs, the audience couldn’t fail to enjoy the evening.

Did Robert sound like Frank Sinatra? Well I shut my eyes a few times, and could easily have been transported to a little club somewhere in the heart of America in the mid 1950’s…  He has the smooth vocals, the easy style, and likeable personality that I can only imagine were typical of the Frank we are all familiar with.  Some of the songs Robert covered included Come Fly With Me,  Fly Me To The Moon, Witchcraft, You Make Me Feel So Young, Strangers In The Night , My Way, New York New York and many more.

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Robert performs many shows across the UK, click on the link here to get details of his up and coming tours and how to buy tickets.  I’ll certainly be watching out for Robert and a hopeful return to Louth Playgoers either later in 2017 or 2018, perhaps with one of his other shows, Broadway and Hollywood musicals, or MGM musicals – after all, I really have got quite enthusiastic about musical theatre!

Robert Habermann by Piano, tie (2)

 

Preview – ‘Songs from Stage & Screen’

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I was delighted to read an advert that Peter Merrick, who played the fabulous part of Pilate in Lincoln Cathedral’s Production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2015 and 2016, posted on Facebook a few days ago.  Peter is going to be performing with Kate Fenn, to raise awareness and much needed funds for the Ethan Maull ‘Up Yours to Cancer’ Foundation.  He’ll be singing with Kate Fenn, a selection of songs from musicals and Christmas at The Friendship Inn, Laughterton on 9th December at 7.30pm.

Peter commented:

“We can start Christmas off early, have some fun and a jar or two. Hope to see you there”.

 

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The Ethan Maull Foundation commented:

“I’m delighted to share this fabulous event with you – what better way to welcome the Christmas season? Come along and join in as Peter Merrick & Kate Fenn entertain you with songs from the musicals and Christmas songs in the warmth of the fabulous Friendship Inn at Laughterton.

It’s going to be a cracking Christmas night – it’s free entry and everyone is welcome so make a note in your diary and keep the date free 

About the Ethan Maull “Up Yours to Cancer” Foundation

Helping Young Children With Cancer

When a family friend was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Ethan Maull, at just 6 years old, helped his father Darren raise over £4,000 for Cancer Research. Darren and his friends, first took on the Yorkshire Peaks and a short time later completed the National 3 Peaks. On the last climb, Ethan joined his father making the final ascent to the top of Snowden, an amazing fete for a small boy!

Just 2½ years later in 2012, Christmas brought a devastating blow to the Maull family when Ethan, at just 8 years old was diagnosed with a rare form of Osteosarcoma, a children’s bone cancer.

In reading about the really tough battle Ethan went through in his young life I would urge anyone who can make this event to make an effort and join Peter and Kate in Laughterton and raise funds for this great cause.