LARGS Amateur Operatic Society recently enjoyed a successful show run with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. The five performances were six months in the making. However, the process began almost a year ago. Society president Fiona Page writes for the News about the making of Superstar, one of the best ever shows to have come to Largs.


'The success of the production was not down to the principals, the cast, the band, the production team or the backstage crew alone.

It was very much a team effort.

The committee require a producer and musical director on board with their choice. The performing licence is applied for in July.

Barrfields must be booked for 11 days to include the set building, the technical set up, band call, dress rehearsal, and show. We secure the services of our lighting guru, Jazz Hutsby and our sound man Alan Beattie of Sono Vie. For this show, the set would be provided by Jack Murdoch, who provided the set for 'Evita'.

The rehearsals began in September at Clark Memorial Church Hall. The hall is hired on Mondays from September to March. For three months it's about learning the tunes, the harmonies and the words!

David Edwards put everyone through their paces musically, ably assisted by Colin Young.

In October it's time for auditions. There were nine principal roles for 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. The auditions went well, with a good turnout. There had been a good choice of candidates, with the exception of the part of Jesus. The challenging high notes in some of his solos could not be reached by our male members. However, Jordan Benacci, from Greenock, fitted the bill. We were delighted to welcome Jordan. Other newcomers, Allan Penders and Al Black, were given parts. Andy Park, David Cameron, John Scott, David McGarvey and Calum McVittie had all appeared on stage in previous shows. Sarah Dillon has been singing with LAOS Voices for the last year but this was her first role in a Largs Operatic production.

The search for costumes was begun but no single costumier had everything to provide 'the look' that the producer was trying to create. This became and ongoing process, involving Irene, cast members sourcing online sites, Scottish Opera and That Looks Good, Paisley. During the show run Maggie Telfer and Pauline Green were on hand for alterations and running repairs.

By January it's time for the producer to bring the production to life with choreography.

Our producer, Irene, spent time at the early rehearsals watching and listening to the cast. This allows her to think of the staging and how the cast will interact with each other from scene to scene. Now the cast learn their positions, their moves and the choreography for crowd scenes and dance numbers.

Before we know it, it's time to move into Barrfields Pavilion Theatre. Our thanks to Stuart Doolan and his men for loading the set in Glasgow and transporting it to Largs and bringing it into the auditorium. A team of volunteers helped Jack Murdoch to put it together and a small local team built the cross-shaped ramp and the actual cross. The team included stage manager David Page, deputy Sandy Cunningham, Peter Walker, Andrew Braniff, John Gullick and cast members Alistair Black, Allan Penders, Calum McVittie and John Scott.

Jazz Hutsby spent four days setting the lights and having the cabling and lights ready for the lighting effects for the production. Working with producer Irene, Jazz then plotted the show and produced a computer controlled programme.

Props are an important part of any show which are sourced or made. Our thanks to Prop Hire Scotland for the props they provided. The rest were sourced locally from cast, production team, charity shops or the internet.

Mel Renton pulled together a team for the make-up. The body make-up for Jordan and the wigs provided very different challenges for the team. Thanks to Mel, Grace, Christine and the students from West College Scotland, Greenock Campus.

With the band on a raised platform on stage, Alan Beattie provided monitors and equipment to allow the MD to view the stage and cast and for the cast to 'see' the MD. This was in addition to the usual mics and sound equipment required for a show like this. Although Barrfields Theatre User Group has some sound equipment available for local groups to use, for a cast of 51, more was needed.

Our thanks to Jazz and Alan, who make it possible for us to put on a very professional show. Lighting and sound have become far more high tech in recent years. Modern audiences expect a high standard in all aspects of a stage show.

After the final dress rehearsal, finally opening night is here. The House lights go down and the band strikes up. The audience is seated and the cast is ready in the wings. The moment we have all been waiting for.

Everyone had a part to play and played it to perfection!

Pics: Laura Robbie.