RICHHILL’S all-singing, all-dancing actor Ryan Gibb will be taking centre stage in one of the biggest shows ever to be staged in Britain.
The 25-year-old, a former pupil of Hardy Memorial Primary School, Clounagh Junior High School and Portadown College, has a key part in an arena tour of the smash hit show ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
It all starts this weekend for Ryan as the curtain goes up on the tour at London’s imposing 22,000-capacity O2 Arena, while next month the show comes to Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, as well as three shows at Dublin’s O2.
Ryan is an ensemble/First Cover Caiaphas in the Andrew Lloyd-Webber-Tim Rice production after impressing in the UK tour of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’.
When the curtain finally comes back on a sold-out O2, it will almost be a relief for Ryan, after six gruelling weeks of rehearsals which begin at 10am and often last through to 11pm.
The rehearsals have taken place in the shadow of London’s Olympic Stadium and recently in the LH2 near Wembley. But will the 50-strong cast be prepared for the 02, Britain’s biggest indoor arena?
Ryan said, “In a typical week we’ve been working 14 hour days but hopefully it will be worth it in the end. It’s going to be the biggest thing ever done here. You are taking a music theatre piece out of the theatre, where usually you perform in front of 2,000 people, and putting it into an arena in front of between 20 and 25,000.
“It’s going to be huge. There are going to be 22,000 people for the opening night, which will be amazing.”
Lloyd-Webber has assembled a superb production team, including the lighting and sound production chief from the famed opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
Ryan said, “Andrew Lloyd-Webber is in every other day, the best of the best are involved in this production. He comes in and usually doesn’t say much, If he doesn’t like something he will be very vocal and tell you, but he hasn’t had to do that much, he thinks what we are doing is amazing.”
From the O2, the tour will move to Glasgow’s SECC, before taking in the likes of Newcastle and Manchester before the October 9 date in Belfast, for which there are still tickets.
“We will all be a bit nervous before the first night,” Ryan admitted. “It’s a massive production and it’s only natural that the cast, crew and technical crew will all have a few nerves.
“But at the same time we know how good this show is. There will also be critics who will say that this show was made for the theatre and should stay there, but you come to expect that.”
Rumours abound that if the British tour is a success, there is talk of a world tour next, with the United States a possible next destination.
Ryan added, “We will wait and see, there has been talk of the US, but I can’t say anything until there is something concrete. Jesus Christ Superstar is a great show, it’s controversial at the same time, some people have their own personal view of it, but it’s a piece that’s there to be enjoyed, it’s not there to teach anyone anything.”
Ryan went to the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While in Portadown, he played a series of lead role with the Junior Phoenix Players in shows like West Side Story, Les Miserables, the Wizard of Oz and Fiddler on the Roof.