After a two-year wait, a Peterborough audience finally got a taste of what big time theatre is all about as a mesmerising production of Jesus Christ Superstar opened at the Broadway as part of the Bill Kenwright Ltd winter season.
And what a treat for the near sell-out crowd, entertained by a talented cast headed by the irrepressible Glenn Carter in the lead role.
For me, two very different yet magical moments remain etched in my memory.
The first, minutes into the chaotic opening scenes with not a word said, just the overture from the note-perfect orchestra. A few bars from the tune bearing the name of the show acted as a timely reminder of why the audience was there. An unexpected hair-on-the-arms-standing-up moment.
The second, more obvious, the closure of the Act One with Gethsemane - Jesus alone in the spotlight at the front of the stage speaking to his God.
An unbelievably good rendition of the classic song. Boy can he sing - Carter might have played the role for 20 years in the West End, Broadway and on film, but it would be churlish to suggest this came easy . He worked for every last note. A real audience-should-stand-up-and-applaud moment.
The voice impeccable - his glass-shattering falsetto has to be heard to be believed - Carter also has great command of the stage. Measured, magnificent, commanding, compellling - even when the stage is full and there is so much going on around him, he demands attention; the audience is drawn to him.
It is of course, a story of Jesus’ final days and Tim Rogers delivers a powerful, hi-energy performance in the integral role of his betrayor Judas Iscariot.
There is no let-up from him - his is an emotionally charged two hours - with anger and guilt in equal measure. All mean and moody he contrasts perfectly opposite Carter’s cool and calm smiling Jesus.
Former X Factor contestant Rachel Adededji shows up well too, a slight vulnerability to her voice which has great tone and quality. She delivered I Don’t Know How To Love Him beautifully.
I enjoyed Jonathan Tweedie’s sympathetic Pontius Pilate, who performed extremely well, and there was a delightful menace to Caiaphas and Annas - Neil Moors and Alistair Lee - who displayed fantastic voices.
Tom Gilling’s big moment - an excellent treatment of Herod’s Song that didn’t thankfully go over the top - was a highlight of Act Two, that and the crucifixion. Credit to the backroom team for that scene - and Superstar from Judas and the Company in particular - which were wonderfully lit. So atmospheric.
A compelling production of the all-time classic rock opera which got a deserved standing ovation. And I am sure it won’t be the last during this week’s run which ends on Saturday.