Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A wind in the door

I was sitting in St Matthias Church, which is compact and rather lovely, waiting with younger daughter for a production of Jesus Christ Superstar to begin. This was an interpretation by "Company P", who, I gather, are affiliated with the Canadian College of Performing Arts on Elgin Street, just a few doors up from one of our frequent house-sits. The school has been around for twenty years, and they have a "Company C", consisting of Third Year students who put on productions. "Company P" is probably an alumni group?

The actors strolled up and down the aisle and on the periphery of the sanctuary, dressed in garb that was supposed to suggest Jazz Age, while music was tapped in - numbers by Louis Armstrong, "I Wanna Be Loved by You" performed by Helen Kane, and, rather more incongruously, numbers from South Pacific, which, as younger daughter pointed out, is not the right era.  There was no programme to explain the concept being aimed for; the names of the performers were looped on a slide presentation, made to look rather like the credits for a silent movie.

I gazed out the stained glass windows, as the afternoon sun shone in. One window reminded me of Proginoskes, the "singular cherubim" who figures in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door, the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time.  I thought about how those books are about different kinds of time, of being outside of time.

This didn't help much.  The performers congregated at the front of the church, swigging from bottles and pulling biblical robes over their suits and drop-waisted dresses, as the music changed to the unmistakable electronic twangs of the overture.  It is a rock opera, after all.

The score was sung to a pre-recorded cyber-orchestra, with the exception of Mary Magdalene's "I Don't Know How to Love Him", accompanied on piano - very well - by the performer playing Jesus.

The singing and the acting were, on the whole, very good - especially Gabriel MacDonald as Jesus, who had great depth, range and projection.

Judas was played by a young woman called Sadie Fox, who sang and acted well, but ended up shouting quite a bit.  (I was also keeping in mind that this was the first of two performances for the day.)

Other featured singers and chorus, very good.  (Dancing, not.)

Younger daughter was nonplussed by the roles of Judas, Simon Zelotes, and Pilate being performed by women.  She's quite literal that way.  I explained that in community and school productions, male roles are often taken by women, reminding her of a production of Hamlet we saw at Camosun College a few years back, which featured a Lady Hamlet.
"But did you enjoy this?"
"Yes.  It was different."

That's my girl.

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