The spirit of theatre was truly resurrected last weekend as Hoylake and West Kirby Theatre Group (HAWK) staged a spectacular production at the Gladstone Theatre, after months of pandemic setbacks.

Originally scheduled for September 2020, the cast and crew of much loved classic, Jesus Christ Superstar, dealt with many blows throughout the health crisis, not least the constantly changing rules about group meetings.

With theatres being closed for over a year, it was vital that companies like HAWK powered through as, at one point, Port Sunlight's Gladstone had to crowd fund in order to just stay afloat, after they were unexpectedly refused funding from the Culture Recovery Grant.

Show director, Ami Clewlow, and assistant director, Simon Brock, talked about the challenges of organising rehearsals, cast safety and on-going problems with venues that hampered the show’s progress.

Jack Parry as Jesus. Photo: Phil Clewlow

Jack Parry as Jesus. Photo: Phil Clewlow

Ami said: "At one point we were allowed fifteen people rehearsing but only six allowed to sing. The community centre we usually rehearsed in was closed due to COVID so we ended up in the back room of a pub wearing masks.

"At one point we thought we might have to do the whole show with masks on so it was all a bit mad."

Having secured the title role more than a year ago, lead actor, Jack Parry committed to months of uncertainty and rigorous COVID testing to ensure that the show could go on, eventually.

Speaking of his delight to be back on stage and seeing the audience engage with theatre again, he said: "It was really special. At the end of every show I couldn’t help but look out into the audience and just appreciate it.

"It was also just the little things we missed, like the warm ups backstage and just having a laugh with everyone. I’ll never forget the feeling of being back up there on stage."

Directors Ami and Simon incorporated a creative way to pay tribute to the dedication of both cast and audience. The whole cast came onto stage wearing masks before removing them in unison as the famous overture chords played. A powerful moment that was received with rapturous applause.

Sol Adams as Judas. Masks were worn for a powerful moment of theatre. Photo: Phil Clewlow

Sol Adams as Judas. Masks were worn for a powerful moment of theatre. Photo: Phil Clewlow

An audience member mentioned the significance of this, saying: "The whole show was amazing, but that moment just gave me a lump in my throat. It really hit home and made me realise how much I’d missed live theatre.

"It was a fantastic night that just brought everyone back together again."

Following a highly successful four-night run, HAWK will be straight back to the rehearsal room for their show stopping pantomime, Cinderella, due to show at the Gladstone Theatre in January 2022.

While 2020 and 2021 have proven incredibly difficult for the entertainment industry, Ami is positive things are on the up and has implemented new and improved ways of working.

She said: "We’re going to rehearse differently now. This show has proved that you can record dances at home, learn it all yourself and then it just gives everyone a head start.

"This show proved the resilience of the arts and that, despite everything, the show must go on."