Jesus Christ Superstar at Gloucester Cathedral: March 25-29
13:35 24 March 2014
Something rather exciting is happening in Gloucester this week.
For just six performances, the world’s largest production of Jesus Christ Superstar is coming to the Cathedral. We just had to find out more, so caught up with artistic director Jerry Lane…
This is an exciting production to be coming to Gloucester in this, GODS’ centenary year. Whose idea was it, Jerry?
We were having an informal meeting about plans to celebrate the GODS centenary year and were looking through all available shows and venues, I jokingly said, “Well we are the GODS, the oldest performing arts organisation in Gloucester,” and Jesus Christ Superstar was semi available (restricted because of the 2013 Arena Tour). I said, “Jesus Christ Superstar in ‘GODS’ house, Gloucester Cathedral, with a full orchestra… I know a man!” The rest, they say, is history. Alison Donavan made all the initial approaches; I then negotiated all the fine detail and began putting together the team. We were granted a special licence, and without realising it, had created a ‘World Premier of Jesus Christ Superstar’ in a UK Cathedral all set for March 25-29.
So, this is the first Jesus Christ Superstar to be performed in a cathedral?
Yes, it will be the largest production of Jesus Christ Superstar ever. I actually couldn’t believe the work had never been performed in its entirety in a cathedral before, until now. I knew then we had something very special. As it has grown the entire team realised how special this will be, and because of the sheer scale of the production this event will probably never be repeated again. Since Jesus Christ Superstar was announced there has been strong interest from the professional entertainment world and I know there will be many celebrities in the audience.
How many performers will there be, and will there be a live orchestra?
There will be 200 performers involved with the production. From the headliners to 30 principles to the professional dancers and a 100-strong ‘Voices Unlimited’ performance ensemble accompanied by the 55-piece Queen’s Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra has been created by myself and Paul Leinthall-Cowman especially for Jesus Christ Superstar, cherry-picking the best musicians from across three counties and beyond. The orchestra will be under the direction of well-known musical director Sue Black with Dr Ria Keen as vocal coach and assistant director to myself.
Playing the part of Jesus is Jon Moses, a finalist on ITV’s Superstar in 2012. You must be pleased to have secured him…
I was very excited when Jon Moses agreed to take on the title role. I watched his performance on Superstar and instantly knew he was the man for this project, then a chance conversation lead to me contacting Jon’s agent Debbie at Tag Management, and a few days later we had ourselves a Superstar.
How were the other lead roles, such as Judas and Mary, chosen?
The role of Judas is played by Daniel Haslam, again a strong professional entertainer who was recommended to me by Dr Ria Keen. Daniel can reach all the notes invented and all the ones still to be discovered! The part of Mary was auditioned and given to Lee-Marie Stokes who in recent years has taken time out to raise a family and now returns to the professional stage with a powerful rock opera vocal style. Paul O’Neil from the Roving Crows plays Ciahpas. Paul and the Roving Crows recently opened for Michael Bublé on tour. Malcolm White and Tristian Dior are playing Pontius Pilate and Herod respectively; both performers are strong stalwart entertainers and have been entertaining Gloucestershire audiences for many years.
Did you see last year’s touring production of JCS? If so, what did you think?
Yes, I did see it and it was a spectacle that worked in an arena environment. The style of the arena tour would not work in a cathedral, though, as it is set for a more intimate, intense theatrical experience, although there will be large video walls to make sure everyone can see all of the performance. Also planned are the best sound and lighting effects design where the entire cathedral will becomes the setting for the performance; we even have flying involved, but I don’t want to give too much away.
You’re a well-known performer yourself, so will you be on stage at Gloucester too?
Thank you for saying that and, although I have been performing professionally for more than 35 years, I won’t be performing this time. My role will be director and producer, which leaves very little time to perform, and to be honest in my experience it is almost impossible to perform and direct simultaneously unless it’s a cameo role, so on this occasion I am very happy to re-create this masterpiece by Tim Rice and Lord Lloyd Webber.
Where do we find further information and what tickets are available?
Tickets start from £12, and rise to £50 for a VIP pass, to include best house seats, private entrance plus a canapé and champagne reception with cast members before the show. All information is available direct by contacting Gloucester Cathedral box office on 0845 652 1823, Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm, or book online at http://tickets.gloucestercathedral.org.uk/admitone/event.php?_evt=GC35