This is the first visit to the Fringe for this young company from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. The company is made up of 15 to 18 year-olds from King Edward VII and Queen Mary schools. Because of a number of American air force bases near to the schools, the cast has an international flavour.
The musical is based upon the last days of Jesus as described in the Gospel according to St Matthew. The musical was first produced in 1971 and has since appeared in numerous productions around the world. It has also been made into a feature film.
The text of the musical does not say where it is to be set so productions often have unusual settings ( for example a junkyard or a museum). This production takes place in modern dress, with no location explicitly stated.
The performance starts off a little uncertainly with the Tower of Babble, but picks up with Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord, sung by Jonathan Gunson as John The Baptist. Jesus then appears and asks to be baptised but John instead asks Jesus to baptise him. Jesus explains that he is not there to baptise but to Save The People. From then onwards the story moves inevitably towards the crucifixion, with musical numbers interspersed by parables.
Charles Mallinson, as Jesus, gives a commanding performance and sings well throughout. The younger singers are, understandably, a little less confident but give their all. The songs sung by the whole company, such as Light of The World and Day By Day work very well.
The afternoon on which I saw the musical was extremely hot and even sitting in the audience was uncomfortable. The cast gave no sign of discomfort and still threw all their energy into their performances, for which they should be congratulated. This is a very enjoyable family musical.