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Jesus Christ Superstar sees the launch of new brand ENSEMBLE In the Round

Critically acclaimed ENSEMBLE Theatre is continuing its rise to success by bringing a series of intimate smash hit productions to the Winter Gardens’ oldest venue.

Curtain-up for new brand Ensemble In the Round is September 30th, when Jesus Christ Superstar is set to breathe life into the historic Pavilion Theatre with massive hits such as Superstar and I Don’t Know How to Love Him. Featuring a live band, this award-winning Broadway and West End showstopper will follow ENSEMBLE’s record-breaking run of musicals – The Sound of Music, Oliver!, The Addams Family, Chicago and Doctor Dolittle.

The ground-breaking musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice made its Broadway debut in 1971, following the success of the album that sold over seven million copies worldwide -  written when the legendary duo were just 25 and 21. It tells the story of the final week in the life of Jesus Christ and originally faced such controversy and opposition that Weber and Rice struggled to get financial backing for the stage production, and so released the soundtrack first to raise funds. It shot straight to the top of the Billboard charts. Still as relevant today, nearly 50 years later, this cult show remains a must-see and a new direction for Blackpool and the Winter Gardens.

As the oldest venue in the Winter Gardens complex, the Pavilion Theatre was part of the original 1878 build and enjoyed a colourful life as an entertainment hub, catering to large crowds at the turn of the 20th century. With a circular design, it lends itself well to event theatre such as In the Round, a style which was common in ancient times. Featuring intricate plasterwork, the apsidal-ended Pavilion’s architecture is reminiscent of churches and cathedrals, making it the perfect venue for what promises to be a powerful performance of Jesus Christ Superstar.

As ever, the cast includes time-served ENSEMBLE members alongside new performers, in line with Andy’s dedication to nurturing young talent and providing a platform for seasoned local artists.

Jesus will be played by professional vocalist, Michael Cosgrove, who is currently touring the UK as Bob Gaudio in the amazing quartet Jersey Beats, singing the greatest hits of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Michael has 15 years of stage experience under his belt, with lead roles in Carousel, Chess and Titanic. Judas is Gaz Jenkins, a singer and entertainer who tours as Billy Joel, playing to packed-out audiences, and has taken a lead role in The Witches of Eastwick. A well-known name on the circuit for 15 years, Gary is a popular host and compere, covering most music genres. Mary Magdalene will be split between Rebecca Eastham and Rachel Cain. Actor/playwright Rebecca has starred in many musicals and is a graduate of the esteemed Mountview Academy. Recent TV credits include Emmerdale. Rachel is a singer/songwriter who won Best Newcomer at the Tennessee competition The Nashville Star Search, and has worked alongside West End orchestras for roles including leading lady Kathy Seldon in Singin’ in the Rain.

Creative Director Andy Vitolo will play Pontius Pilate, the man who presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion. Andy’s previous roles have included Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden, Henry/Hyde in Jekyll & Hyde and Frederick in Chess.

This is just one hat of many for Andy, who is looking forward to a busy and successful season and is already planning the company’s 2021 season. In between he is writing hit tracks for the Eurovision, as well as working on two brand new musicals for which readings will be held in London.

Andy said: “The creation of ENSEMBLE In the Round is an incredibly exciting step forward, not just for the company and cast, but for the Winter Gardens and local theatre-goers. I was absolutely thrilled to have secured the Pavilion Theatre for Jesus Christ Superstar. I wanted it to be immersive, for the audience to really feel part of the story, to be IN it, experiencing something that’s not usually accessible in Blackpool.  With this theatre being the oldest part of the building there is so much history too. I cannot think of a more breath-taking and atmospheric setting for what is “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.”

ENSEMBLE Theatre’s Jesus Christ Superstar* comes to Blackpool for five performances only,

30th September to 3rd October. Tickets are selling fast, so early booking is advised. Book here.

* An Amateur production by arrangement with The Really Useful Company.

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