Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
At once shocking yet respectful and unforgettable, Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of biblical Jesus in his final week on Earth. Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1970, the musical has no spoken dialogue and is sometimes considered a modern rock-opera. The musical started as a concept album before its Broadway début in 1971.
Loosely based on the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Superstar focuses on the personal conflicts between Jesus, his disciples (called apostles in the show), the people of Israel, and the leadership of Rome. Special attention is played to the relationship between Judas Iscariot, Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The story covers the last week of Jesus’s life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his apostles in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion. This week has had a tremendous effect on humankind. This rather small group of disciples, under the leadership of Jesus, actually managed to change the course of history. It’s a story with universal appeal, with a sense of humanity that is endlessly surprising and moving.
The musical is unique among biblical retellings in that it focuses on both Judas’s struggle making the decision to betray Jesus and Jesus’s human psychology, fear, and anger in understanding and accepting his role as both leader and martyr. The show is a product of its era, permeated with 1970’s rock, gospel, folk and funk themes, language and colloquialisms of the time, and high-energy dance numbers.
at the Epsom Playhouse
JAMES FORTUNE - DIRECTOR
Semi-professional theatre productions have included The Witches of Eastwick, Titanic, Parade, Mame, Calamity Jane and his hilarious and unique production of HMS Pinafore for the Epsom Light Opera Company; Kiss Me Kate for BANAOS, Calamity Jane again for the Lyric Players, Little Shop of Horrors for WAOS and, most recently, Sweet Charity for the Molesey Musical Theatre Company.
Four of these won the coveted NODA award for Excellence, the amateur Oscars. He also won two NODAs for his version of Sweeney Todd for WAOS – the Award for Excellence and the Haslemere Trophy for Technical Excellence.
James is delighted to be directing this brand-new production of Jesus Christ Superstar with a superb cast and crew.
AMY BRYCE - MUSICAL DIRECTOR
MATTHEW HOWES - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR AND CHOREOGRAPHER
|Jesus of Nazareth: Matthew Landells
Matthew feels excited and privileged to have the opportunity to perform as Jesus in Epsom Light Opera's production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. As a teen, he attended a school in France where he was trained as a soprano in their choir. While studying in Nottingham, Matthew starred as Lucas (The Addams Family musical) with the University's theatrical society. Once he graduated he moved to Canada and taught English to students in Quebec. During his time there he sung with 'L'echo Beauceron', a community choir. He performed several shows singing a as tenor, mainly in French. Recently he has been performing in Christian theatre, working with the Wintershall production in Surrey. Matthew hopes to continue performing in his future and wants you to enjoy the show!
|Judas Iscariot: Ben Essenhigh
Benjamin graduated from Leeds College of Music with an honours degree in Jazz Studies, and is currently Director of Performing Arts at Ewell Castle School in Surrey. He has also worked as a percussionist on national tours in and around London since the age of 14. Benjamin was a member of the National Youth Theatre between 2003 and 2006 where he trained and performed as Arthur (The York Realist), Aase (Peer Gynt) and Gerald (An Inspector Calls). Benjamin’s recent musical theatre roles have included Leonard (Yeoman of the Guard), Pish-Tush (Mikado), Freddie (My Fair Lady) and Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd). Benjamin also enjoyed a ‘straight theatre’ outing as Willie Mossop (Hobson’s Choice). He is delighted to be joining ELOC for their production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and would like to thank the whole society for their warm welcome.
|Mary Magdalene: Charlie Qureshi
Jesus Christ Superstar is Charlie's 16th production with ELOC and she is absolutely thrilled to have been given the opportunity to play the part of Mary Magdalene. Charlie trained at Laine Theatre Arts graduating in 2004 with a diploma in Performing Arts. Whilst there, she performed in shows such as Honk, Little Me and Beauty and the Beast. Charlie loves performing for ELOC, and some of her favourite roles include Lucille in Parade, Kathy in Singin’ in The Rain and Anita in West Side Story.
|Pontius Pilate: James Turnbull
James has now been treading the boards now for over 40 years. He has performed over 70 shows with many societies, including Epsom Players, BROS, Leatherhead Operatic, Lyric and ELOC. James is very much looking forward to playing Pilate in this show which is one of his favourites. Other memorable roles include Judas (Jesus Christ Superstar), Fagin (Oliver), Jud Fry and Curly (Oklahoma!), Nicely Nicely (Guys and Dolls) and Wilbur Turnblad (Hairspray). He feels very fortunate to have played some cracking roles in his time, and long may it continue! He’d like to wish his talented son Alfie all the best in his forthcoming National Tour of The King and I.
|King Herod: Damien de Roche
Damien trained at GSA and with the National Youth Theatre. He has performed and directed with numerous companies over the years, and most recently for ELOC played the role of Hugh Dorsey (Parade). More recently he has played Henry Higgins (My Fair Lady), Lawrence (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Daddy Warbucks (Annie).
|Caiaphas: Nic Ash
Nic is delighted to have been offered the opportunity to play the role of Caiaphas in this production, which will be (by his reckoning) the 30th show in which he has appeared with ELOC. Nic has been involved with choirs and musical theatre in the area for many years. He first joined the Company in 1993 when he has been fortunate to play many principal roles; his favourites (so far) include the Wasir (Kismet), Molokov (Chess) and Buddy (Follies). He has also directed a number of the Company’s shows including Me and My Girl (2006), Carmen – The Musical (2009) and Half a Sixpence (2012). Nic thinks this is the first time he has played a priest; it is certainly the first time a role has required him to attempt a bottom C sharp!
|Annas: Max Marchesi
This is Max’s sixth show with ELOC and is excited to be playing the role of Annas. Max is currently studying a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre at the University of Chichester (Conservatoire). He recently graduated from The BRIT School with a diploma in Theatre, gaining a Distinction. His aspirations are to perform on the West End and one day direct for ELOC. Previous favourite roles include Francis Fryer (Calamity Jane), Baby John (West Side Story), Dandy Dan (Bugsy Malone) and most recently Officer Lockstock (Urinetown). Max would like to thank ELOC for giving him the opportunity to perform as Annas and hopes you enjoy the show.
|Simon Zealotes: Toby James
Toby is glad to be back with ELOC for his second show following ‘Hot Mikado’, and is proud to be part of such an amazing and talented cast. Having spent all of his time acting in 'serious plays' prior to joining ELOC, he's happy to be in a more serious musical! He hopes you enjoy the show!
|Peter: Rick Qureshi
Rick is delighted to be performing in his 11th ELOC show as Peter in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Rick has been performing in musicals for over 12 years and is excited that ELOC has been able to secure the license for this legendary show. Following the success of ‘West Side Story’, where Rick played the part of Bernardo, his other previous roles include Motel (Fiddler on the Roof), Benny Southstreet (Guys and Dolls), Paul (Kiss Me Kate) and Marius (Les Miserables). Rick would like to thank all the cast and crew for making this such a fun show to be a part of and, as Treasurer of ELOC, encourages you to fill your boots with as many programmes and raffle tickets as possible!
Dil Patel, Mike Ellis, Paul Featherstone, Simon Rothwell, Dalton Leong, Alan Wilkins, Paul Hyde, Peter Barnett, Tyrone Haywood
Katz Dent, Karen Wilson, Sandra Zeffman, Helen Pennicard, Caron Ireland, Danielle Kerley, Jill Howlett, Jane Platt, Terry Marsh
Steve Dent, Dan Crego-Bustelo, Alex Churcher, Albert Helg, Anthony Black
Helen Pennicard, Julie Parker, Jane Platt, Holly Carnegie, Jocelyn Dunne, Charlie Hoddell
Catherine Ash, Emma Walker, Emma Bullock, Holly Artis, Holly Carnegie, Helen Pennicard, Danielle Kerley, Caron Ireland, Jocelyn Dunne, Alex Churcher, Dan Crego-Bustelo, Mike Ellis, Simon Ferrier, Dalton Leong, Tyrone Haywood
Damien de Roche, Anthony Black
Holly Artis, Catherine Ash, Emma Bullock, Anthony Black, Holly Carnegie, Alex Churcher, Dan Crego-Bustelo, Steve Dent, Katz Dent, Annabel Dixon, Jocelyn Dunne, Mike Ellis, Sophie Featherstone, Simon Ferrier, Tyrone Haywood, Albert Helg, Eddie Hinds, Charlie Hoddell, Jill Howlett, Caron Ireland, Danielle Kerley, Dalton Leong, Terry Marsh, Jess McShee, Julie Parker, Helen Pennicard, Jane Platts, Emma Walker, Ruby Wilson, Karen Wilson, Sandra Zeffman
Judas starts to worry about Jesus (“Heaven on Their Minds”). He doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God as many others believe, and he is afraid that if Jesus gets too loud, he will draw attention from the Romans, who will then crush him and the apostles. That Friday night in Bethany, the apostles ask Jesus about his plans for the future (“What’s the Buzz?”).
While the apostles pester Jesus, Mary Magdalene comforts him by rubbing his feet and hair in oil. Judas arrives and asks Jesus what he is doing with a woman of Mary Magdalene’s reputation (“Strange Thing Mystifying”). Jesus tells Judas not to throw stones unless his own slate is clean. Mary Magdalene tries to calm Jesus down (“Everything’s Alright”) and soothes him, telling him not to worry. Judas, meanwhile, asks Jesus why good money was used on expensive ointments instead of the poor. Jesus replies that the poor can’t be helped and alludes to his own death, saying that they’ll be lost when he’s gone.
The following Sunday in the temple in Jerusalem, High Priest Caiaphas confers with other priests, discussing what to do about Jesus. They conclude that the only way to stop “Jesus-mania” is to execute him (“This Jesus Must Die”).
When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, the crowd is ecstatic (“Hosanna”). Simon tries to persuade Jesus that he can sway the people of Jerusalem to arm against Rome (“Simon Zealotes”). Jesus answers that no one understands what true power or glory is, and that to conquer death, one must die (“Poor Jerusalem”).
The next day, Pontius Pilate dreams about his role in Jesus’ death (“Pilate’s Dream”).
Jesus arrives at the temple in Jerusalem to find it a haven for moneylenders, merchants and other ne’er-do-wells. He chases them out in anger (“The Temple”). He is then surrounded by lepers and the poor, who beg to be healed, and Jesus yells at them to heal themselves.
Mary Magdalene tries to comfort him again, and, after Jesus is asleep, she tries to decide how to deal with her love for him (“I Don’t Know How to Love Him”).
Judas goes to talk with Caiaphas (“Damned for All Time”) and tells the priests where to find Jesus on Thursday night (“Blood Money”).
On Thursday night in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is performing the Last Supper (“The Last Supper”). The apostles discuss how they’re glad to be where they are now, while Jesus suffers from doubt. He announces that Peter will deny him, and another of his 12 chosen will betray him.
Judas leaves, and the other apostles go to sleep. Jesus stays awake and prays (“Gethsemane”). He wants to know why he must die and go through with his Father’s plan.
Judas arrives and betrays Jesus with a kiss (“The Arrest”).
Caiaphas asks if Jesus is the Son of God, and Jesus answers that he that is what others say he is. Peter denies he ever knew Jesus to three people (“Peter’s Denial”). Jesus is taken to Pilate, who sends him off to Herod, since Jesus comes from Galilee and is therefore not under Pilate’s jurisdiction (“Pilate and Christ”).
King Herod asks Jesus to perform miracles to prove that he is the Son of God; if he does, Herod will release him (“King Herod’s Song”). Jesus refuses, and he is sent back to Pilate.
Meanwhile, Mary, supported by Peter, wishes none of this ever happened (“Could We Start Again Please?”).
Back in the temple, Judas sees the bruised and beaten Jesus and wonders how he could have done such a thing to Jesus. He hangs himself, saying that Jesus has murdered him.
Pilate tries to help Jesus and attempts to sate the crowd’s cry for crucifixion with 39 lashes (“Trial Before Pilate”). But the crowd still clamours for Jesus’ death, and he is sent to be crucified.
The voice of Judas is heard, still questioning Jesus (“Superstar”). He wonders why Jesus chose the particular time and place that he did, and why he chose to sacrifice himself for others.
Jesus is nailed to the cross (“The Crucifixion”). He dies and his body is then given to the two Marys for burial (“John 19:41”).
During the Curtain Call, we see Jesus is risen.
Promotional and Rehearsal Photos - By Charlotte Thompson and Paul Featherstone
Photos for our promotional photoshoot are available for viewing - click here
Dress Rehearsal Photos - By Andy Carter
Photos from the Dress Rehearsal are available for viewing - click here
ELOC - "Jesus Christ Superstar"
Epsom Playhouse - 15th October 2019
I have to say at the outset that Jesus Christ Superstar is not remotely among my favourite shows. I have reviewed it many times and, in truth prior to this visit, had yet to find it especially enjoyable. I find the story over simplified and the music unmemorable, with only a couple of exceptions. However, as I knew that James Fortune was to direct this production, I was in high hopes of finding something special on stage this time. And I was not disappointed, as James totally transformed what hitherto I have found a dreary show into a magical evening of theatre. James is, of course, both literally and metaphorically a stage magician almost without peer. Consequently, I now look forward to seeing this show the next time I am asked to do so.
A thoughtfully designed set, on several levels made for an excellent opening. Judas Iscariot valiantly sang “Heaven on their minds”, but a technical sound mishap – so I was later informed – meant that the music was too loud and almost drowned him. It transpired that this was rectified by the following night, thankfully.
Energy, pace and theatrical atmosphere and tension was present for the whole production and the singing was of a high order in general, with several principals having top quality voices.
There was imaginative and most effective use of lighting with various different colours being freely used to enhance the whole. Credit is due to lighting designer Simon Banks, operator Dominic Lawrence and the four follow spot operators. Stuart Vaughan did really well on sound, the aforementioned comment apart.
The very fine costumes were totally realistic – Mary Magdalene rescued from crown stoning by Jesus – being resplendent in scarlet! No other colour would have worked so well. Elizabeth Callow did her usual excellent job with the costumes - co-ordinating, sourcing and making.
The key principal players all had fine singing voices. Charlie Qureshi as Mary Magdalene oozed class with the best song of all, hauntingly delivered too, as she sang “I don’t know how to love him” Matthew Landells was perfectly cast in the title role of Jesus of Nazareth, giving a convincing and moving portrayal as his grisly crucifixion came nearer and nearer. The death scene was a triumph of staging and I would applaud SM Sarah Wood for the whole way in which this show was handled and sets changed. Richard Pike as DSM ably assisted.
Ben Essenhigh played Judas Iscariot skilfully and got really inside this historically devious and weak disciple. James Turnbull brought individual character to Pontius Pilate and I really liked the entrance of the mesmeric Damien de Roche as King Herod. Damien is one of those rare actors when you can rely upon to elevate any show he is in. And he certainly did so in this production.
Other strong performances were given by Nic Ash as Caiaphas, Max Marchesi as Annas, Toby James as Simon Zealotes, Rick Qureshi as Peter – who played this key role to the hilt – and in fact by all the apostles. The last supper scene was beautifully staged and the way the entire cast was used was a triumph of directing and for the movement director Matthew Howes, who played an important part in this riveting production.
Make up by Zoe Warner and Kirsten Massingham was appropriate and effective.
I have left the excellent band under the assured command of musical director Amy Bryce, to the end. There was a vibrancy, occasionally too loud, but overall a stunning effect and thanks to all the above talented and dedicated people, plus a numerous and well drilled chorus, this show has now gained another, even if somewhat older than most, fan!
Take another deserved bow ELOC!