Jesus Christ Superstar

Robbie Paulin as Jesus.
Robbie Paulin as Jesus.

Senior pupils from The Berwickshire High School will take to the boards again next week to bring to life Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take on the greatest story ever told ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.

The show runs from Thursday, November 16 to Saturday, November 18, at The Berwickshire High School. Tickets (£8/£6 with discounts for families) are available directly from the school or from Nairn in Duns.

Maddie Cawthorn (Mary), Fergus Murray and Finlay Foster.

Maddie Cawthorn (Mary), Fergus Murray and Finlay Foster.

It is nearly 50 years since the musical first hit the Broadway stage and the music and lyrics are as fresh as they were in 1969, presenting the story of Jesus’ persecution and crucifixion as seen through the eyes of his disciple Judas Iscariot. Tim Rice’s insightful libretto encourages the audience to reflect on how one of Jesus’ closest allies could have been led to betray him and how the fanatical crowds that followed their Messiah could have turned on him.

In the title role is S4 pupil Robbie Paulin. This is Robbie’s first major role and it is hard to imagine a more challenging debut.

Robbie has risen to the challenge magnificently and when performing songs like ‘Gethsemane’, it is hard to believe that he made his first ever stage appearance as a backing dancer in the Corny Collins show in the BHS June production of Hairspray.

The role of Judas, so memorably played by Carl Anderson in the 1973 film and more recently by Australian Tim Minchin, is taken on by another S4 pupil, Samuel Adeosun.

The Jesus Christ Superstar dancers get in some practice on stage.

The Jesus Christ Superstar dancers get in some practice on stage.

Traditionally seen as a “baddie”, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Judas is more a victim of circumstances. And he gets some of the best songs – including ‘Heaven on Their Minds’ and the title track, ‘Superstar!’. Having dazzled audiences as Seaweed in Hairspray, Samuel is once again in fine form in this extremely demanding, dramatic role.

Jesus Christ Superstar was controversial when it was first released, partly because of the way it portrayed the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The role of Mary is taken on by S6 pupil Madeline Cawthorn. Despite being only seventeen, Maddy has already wowed audiences with her prize-winning performances as Dorothy (in The Wizard of Oz), Little Red Riding Hood (Into The Woods), The Mother Abbess (The Sound of Music) and many more. Her heart-rending account of ‘I Don’t Know How To love Him’ is sure to be one of the highlights of the show.

Almost every song in the score is well-known and will be brought to life by the enthusiastic cast and a fantastic rock-orchestra (featuring BHS English teacher Derek Huffman on guitar), all under the direction of head of expressive arts, Cameron Mabon. Those familiar with the musical will look forward to highlights like ‘Herod’s Song’ (featuring Fergus Murray and his harem of dancing girls!), ‘What’s the Buzz?’, ‘Everything’s Alright’ and ‘Hosanna’. There are also some fantastic supporting characters – the conspiratorial priests Caiaphas and Annas (Oliver Wright and Finlay Foster), Pontius Pilate (Archie Beattie), and Jesus’ disciples Simon (Chris Drewery) and Peter (Cameron Davie).

The cast have been working very hard since August to put the show together. The challenge has been enormous – the vocal parts are extremely difficult and the story is perhaps the most dramatic of all stage musicals.

Nevertheless, the young performers have once again demonstrated just what a talented bunch of pupils there are at The Berwickshire High School, and the show promises to be a great evening’s entertainment.