THE Passion story is being brought bang up to date in a musical extravaganza at Queen Elizabeth School at Kirkby Lonsdale.

Sell-out audiences are this week enjoying the school’s performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

Director Lee Fleming, head of theatre arts at the school, said it was going down a storm with audiences who had come to expect high standards from the students’ annual productions.

“It’s a very modern musical and we wanted to drag it right into the 21st Century – there is nothing of the traditional ancient Jerusalem, but a city scene which could be anywhere in London or Manchester.

“It is a very funky set with a big metal construction and we have a cast of 60 kids from years 10 to 13 plus the band and backstage crew, so around 100 pupils in all.

“It also includes work from many school departments – in all about a third of the school curriculum is involved, which creates a fantastic atmosphere.

“This has probably been the most impressive set of kids we have had in a show, and because it is a great rock opera, they have really got into the music. The energy of the cast on stage is brilliant.”

JCS was last performed at the school more than a decade ago, and Mr Fleming said it was a timely return as the show had seen a boost in popularity from the ITV programme Superstar, a competition to cast the part of Jesus in an arena tour.

“Having that on the TV and then the live show starring Tim Minchin, Chris Moyles and Mel C has meant it holds a lot more interest with the kids,” said Mr Fleming.

“The Really Useful Group, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s company, granted us a licence to put on the show, which we were really surprised about.

“And Jen Hartley, who is the head of music, is really excited because it is her favourite musical, and she had been wanting to do it for ages.”

The show runs at the school until Saturday.