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Jesus Christ Superstar at LOT was worth it

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2014 LOT JCS Seanna Kennedy Photography (18)

Photography: Seanna Kennedy

Where: The Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT) – Toronto ON
When: January 25, 2015
Running Time: 2 hrs with (15 min intermission)

Score: B (Good)

Ossington Theatre has been a staple in the Toronto scene since 2007 and recently closed their month long run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.

A strong cast of young talented actors paired with experienced director Alan Kinsella and lighting designer Mikael Kangas, made for an above average performance.

Notable elements of the production included: choreography (Maggie LcCasse), lighting (Mikael Kangas) and the band led by musical director Mike Ross.

The acting and singing ranged from excellent to terrible.

Act I stand out scenes:

Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem, displayed impressive choreography and a stand out performance from Jaymee Fuczek. Fuczek’s quick cameo was a surprise, seeing as we didn’t expect a woman to play the role of Simon. Originally from Winnipeg Manitoba, Fuczek has also appeared at LOT’s production of RENT. Her performance was on point and she is someone to keep an eye on.

2014 LOT JCS Seanna Kennedy Photography (34)The Temple scene displayed very impressive choreography and a powerful vocal performance from Erik Kopacsi playing Jesus.

However, it was I don’t know how to love him that showed us who the shining star of the show really was. Sacha Stewart’s portrayal of Mary Magdalene was stunning. If we were using a scale of 10 points, Stewart was as close to perfect as one can get. Her delivery, emotion and pitch were spot on. The only element lacking was personality. It was difficult to tell if this lack in originality was due to direction or the actors fear of taking a risk. Stewart, a graduate of Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts (like many of the actors who perform at LOT), seems to be a stones throw away from finding her feet. She was by far the most impressive actor of the evening and is a diamond in the rough with star potential. When she finds a way to inject her own personality into her future performances, she will be a star set for a worlds stage.

Act II stand out scenes:

King Herod played by Phil Skala during King Herod’s Song was the most original performance of the night. Casting choices for the scene were excellent and it felt like everything just fit.

Could we Start Again Please?, displayed a stunning duet from Peter (Sam Migliazza) and Mary Magdalene (Sacha Stewart).

Judas’ Death had impressive visuals and choreography, however, we were happy to see Judas (Luiz Monterei) exit. Monterei was painful to watch and really affected overall perception and flow of the play. His vocal range missed notes 50 percent of the time, where high pitched vocals were often replaced with ear piercing screams. His pronunciation on many passages was undetectable on account of his Brazilian accent. If Monterei was given a lesser role he may have been tolerable, however casting him in the leading role of Judas was a grave mistake.

There are days when Monterei and Migliazza switch between the roles of Judas and Peter. Monterei should stick to the lesser role in future productions until he gains a better command over his vocal range.

The only thing that saved the scene was the lead guitar playing exchanged between Steve Dale and Matt Marcoccia. Both guitar players displayed incredible dazzling lead lines that covered improvisational styles from Jazz/Funk to Metal/Fusion.

2014 LOT JCS Seanna Kennedy Photography (33)Trial Before Pilot was both realistic and brutal. Ephraim Ellis (Pilate) was easily the best dressed of the night. His silver suit and golden crown made him stand out as a leader.  The metallic image was mirrored by an adequate performance that hit the role dead on. The 39 lashes was difficult to watch, which is the point of that scene.

All of the spectacular lighting in the world could not save Superstar the scene. Again Monterei displayed weak vocals combined with cheesy hip movements that simply made it difficult to watch.

Other notable performance: Amaka Umeh (Caiaphas) on all accounts.

Overall the production was a success and was worth attending. We will be on the look out for more great productions from LOT later this year.


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