Words by Tim Rice and Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Nuffield Theatre,
January 2014
Director: Victoria Luke
Cast List
Jesus Christ
Judas Iscariot
Mary Magdalene
Pontius Pilate
Simon Zealotes
King Herod

Notes on this performance

122. Jesus Christ Superstar 

Southampton Rock Opera Society…

The success of Beauty and the Beast presented the Committee with a problem. The production had been popular with members and audiences; what was needed for the next winter show was one with a similar ‘drawing power’ but without the associated expense. Nigel Finch suggested Jesus Christ Superstar but others argued that a rock opera was not suitable SOS material, there was only one principal role for the women, two high tenors would be required (which the Society did not have) and, as there was a professional tour, the performing licence was not available.

It was then discovered that the tour was going to America and the licence might be granted for a limited period only. No doubt other groups would also be interested, so there was no time for further debate and an application was sent in quickly (hoping that other problems could also be resolved). Vic Luke and Nigel Finch needed little persuasion to reform the directing team that did so well with Beauty and the Beast.

Those other problems were soon settled, the company revelled in the challenge of attempting a different style of opera, more roles for the ladies were created (the Temple gained two women High Priests - Jo Barnard and Brigitte Lavoie) and two new men who could sing really high joined (ex DYT member Steven Lilly and Peter Ward). A new problem was the difficulty in arranging for Jesus to have twelve apostles and Mark Allen proved invaluable at recruiting them At one stage Jesus’ male followers were down to six but the full complement was eventually achieved (even though one bore a strong resemblance to one of the High Priests).

The NODA critique summed up the show with: ‘This was a most enjoyable production, but also a very emotional experience,’ but the Echo reporter was more matter of fact: ‘A packed house on opening-night heaps pressure on a company and some coped better than others as this ever-popular Tim Rice – Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was given a fresh look by Director Victoria Luke, featuring crowd-surfing and mobile phones. Having followed Steven Lilly’s career from youth productions, I was keen to see how he coped with taking the big step that the lead-role presented him with. In an initially understated reading, he visibly grew into the part, showing that he now has a strong voice with a magnificent higher-register. Peter Ward’s performance matched him in quality, displaying great stage presence as Judas. Vicky Dodimead gave a touching portrayal as Mary, hitting top form in an emotional “Could We Start Again Please?” Mike Pavitt was a strong Pilate and the ensemble players were consistently energetic and tuneful, which unfortunately couldn’t be said for the whole of the orchestra. Some lighting and sound problems apart – a great show.’ Interestingly, relating to the following evening, the NODA report stated, ‘Nigel and the orchestra were fantastic and the music was quite thrilling.’

Some had warned that Jesus Christ Superstar was an expensive and unpopular show but they were wrong. Tickets sold really well and instead of hiring a costly set, Vic used lighting very effectively and a profit of £3122 was recorded.

Terry O'Farrell


Photo of Mary and Jesus

Mary Magdalene (Vicky Dodimead) and Jesus (Steven Lilly)

Photo of Simon

Jesus (Steven Lilly) with Simon Zealots (Paul Dawson-Plincke)

Photo of Lepers

Jesus (Steven Lilly) with the Lepers

Photo of Judas

Annas (Jo Barnard), Judas (Peter Ward) and Caiaphas (Roger Lamb)

Photo of Herod

Herod (Mark Allen) with Jesus (Steven Lilly) and Gillian Parry, Ellie Robinson and Natasha Palmer

Photo of Pilate

Jesus (Steven Lilly) before Pontius Pilate (Mike Pavitt)

 Photo of Crucifixion

The Crucifixion