Godspell, Norwich

JOHN LAWSON The crowd came to Love their Neighbour, in the shape of Daniel MacPherson – aka Joel from the Aussie soap – but went away adoring everything about this stunning revival.

JOHN LAWSON

The crowd came to Love their Neighbour, in the shape of Daniel MacPherson – aka Joel from the Aussie soap – but went away adoring everything about this stunning revival.

No flower-power rehash this – director Scott Schwartz has taken his father Stephen's precious baby and nurtured it to become a true child of the new millennium.

And in doing so, the Gospel according to St Matthew has become an everyman tale of love and friendship accessible to every faith and culture.

Love thy neighbour, and love thy God – whoever you conceive Him to be – are the overriding themes. And if the power of the message of this show could stretch across the world we would never have a worry about Holy Wars again.

From the stunning, computer-generated opening of light and sound on a shimmering hi-tech set which assaulted all the senses, the high-octane 10-strong company had the audience in the palms of their hands.

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And the power issuing from Steve Parry's four-piece band was simply awesome.

Technical trickery abounded with blue-screen video projection, comedy TV inserts – God Morning, Fawlty Temples and Jerry Springer to name but three – and a swirling, dazzling lighting rig.

But mostly there were some gold-plated vocal chords – Jonathan Wilkes and Isabella Jade Fane on the show's most famous numbers Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord and Day By Day.

But Daniel Thomas's gospel number brought the house down while Nicki Daley's heart-rending ballad voice flooded into the soul.

MacPherson and Wilkes, who will alternate the roles of Jesus and Judas during the run, made a charismatic partnership who played their audience like rock stars.

The crucifixion scene was stunningly realised in back-lit splendour, and you could have heard a pin drop in an overawed auditorium – no mean achievement when you've spent the previous two hours whipping the crowd into a cheering, whistling frenzy.

This was always more than a revival – it was a rebirth.

t Godspell runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday May 4. Box office: 01603 630000.

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