Jesus Christ Superstar wows audiences
What's the buzz?
Central Coast Grammar School's senior school musical production of Jesus Christ Superstar was the buzz on the Coast this August.
After two years of musical productions placed on hold due to COVID, CCGS returned with a bang and buzz like no other.
Retelling the story of Judas' betrayal of Jesus Christ, students embraced the complex story of Christ's final days and his relationship and struggles with Mary Magdalene, Judas, his disciples and a growing number of followers. But this wasn't a story set in AD 33. Students set their version of the story as if Jesus was alive today.
Abigail Gracia who played Judas said, "Mr Fleming's vision and how he adapted the story played into our strengths to help make our interpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar so different. We had females playing traditional biblical male roles, technology woven into the storyline, modern themes and more!”
"To ensure our students were hooked, we gave them ownership of the vision. Staff and students worked closely together to create a contemporary and modern take on the story so our students felt really attached to it," said Mr Lee Fleming, Director of Performing Arts.
And you could tell - this student and staff partnership worked.
The heavy use of digital visuals that accompanied the live performances were created by students Nicholas Moroney, Ben Wilson and Liam West. Visuals were fed through different scenes adding another layer and dimension to the story. Audiences gasped as they watched scenes projected on stage, like the crucifixion and Judas' death. We couldn't wait to see what was next!
Abigail said, "When we filmed Judas' death scene, I could tell that the visual direction of this show was going to be amazing. I had put on my costume for the very first time, and we were running around Matcham filming. The creative direction was incredible. I knew we were making something extraordinary."
Added Matthew Trethewy, who played Jesus, "During the dress rehearsal, when the curtains drew closed, everyone backstage fell silent. You could literally hear a pin drop. It was then I realised we had created something insane!"
The scenes, sets, props, and costumes were all designed by students with help and support from staff. The choreography encapsulated power and motion and was also heavily influenced by students, creating a contemporary, abstract and electric interpretation of the original show.
Matthew added, "Many of our costumes were our own clothes which helped connect us even more to our characters and make them more modern. There was definitely an edgy vibe to the production."
This was a hard-hitting musical with some seriously hard-hitting vocals. Matthew's interpretation of Jesus was powerful from start to finish, and Abigail's portrayal of Judas was strong and gutsy. Joan Han-Park stood out as Mary Magdalene providing soft, calming and beautiful tones.
However, it wasn't just the three main leads that hit out some extreme notes. Michael Lin as Pontius Pilate was genuinely threatening and vicious. Hazel Hunt and Ronnie Rawal created the perfect conniving duo as Caiaphas and Annas, and Nicholas Moroney played the egotistical and colourful King Herod, delighting the audience with his flair.
The outstanding apostles and ensemble created momentum and crescendos to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
Hats off to Taylah Doyle (Simon) and Kayden Cook (Peter), who also sang powerful solo numbers and to special mention to the lead ensemble vocalists too. Everyone in the cast showed the audience the true range of talent at CCGS.
Props and stage scenes also interjected students' ideas about the world, spreading messages about climate change, poverty and humanitarianism. The stage crew were flawless in keeping the show slick. Their commitment and professionalism to the production was certainly recognised.
This was a huge team production with over 130 students.
On the final Saturday night performance, the standing ovations and roar of applause nearly raised the Performing Arts Centre roof.
As the encores rained, musicians with instruments entered on stage - the Rock-estra was here!
For many in the audience, it was then they realised the incredible music they had heard throughout had been played live and projected into the performing arts main stage for us to hear. Another 'Wow!' moment.
Thank you to all involved for providing the community with such an incredible experience – we are already asking, ‘what’s next?!’ We cannot wait.