Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Having in the past heard some very substandard cast recordings, I approached this recording of a musical written by two unknown (well, unknown to me) songwriters, John L Crellin and Alvin P Marper, with considerable suspicion. Particularly when I noted that this double CD featured the non-professional cast who sang at The Power & The Glory's premiere in Barnsley in 2017. My trepidation was not helped by the musical's theme - to quote from a Barnsley Chronicle review, "Unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, this show not only takes it further, beyond Jesus' death on the cross, but darker too." And my suspicion turned to full-scale "oh dears" when I heard the first track "Prologue", with a child singer with a decidedly wobbly voice attempted to set the scene for all that was to come, but whose vocal deficiencies couldn't be hidden, even when the full choir entered. I've subsequently learnt that this was the dear child's first ever public performance. All I can say is that what could have worked in the context of the live performance doesn't cut it for a CD. But after this underwhelming start, bit by bit, my objections began to fall away as I recognised that Messrs Crellin and Marper have written a strong musical. Some of the performances are good, too. The singers who play the two key roles, Paul Scott as Jesus and Michael Cooper as Judas, both have excellent voices, while the band arrangement of a song like "The Temple (Den Of Thieves)" with its careering rhythm would sound good on pop radio, if any station, Christian or non-Christian, were bold enough to programme an obscure album track from an amateur cast evangelical Christian musical. By its close, I was convinced that 'The Power & The Glory' is one of the best Christian musical's I've heard. There are some difficulties. The melody for a piece sung by Mary Magdalene is simply not poignant enough for the lyrics expressing such profound misery, while, as mentioned already, a few of the vocalists aren't up to the unremitting scrutiny that a recording makes of a singer. But I do hope that some churchgoers who've dreamed of putting on a musical in their town will investigate this album. For without a doubt, 'The Power & The Glory' has too many strengths to be allowed to disappear without more performances.
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