Andrew Lloyd Webber has asked for the public help over the past few years finding roles for his most recent plays. There’s been television hunts for Maria in The Sound of Music, searches for a Dorothy to walk up the Yellow Brick Road and a quest to find a suitable person to wear an amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Webber’s latest research was on a much grander scale, to find someone to play the most important person in the universe...Jesus Christ. After eliminating thousands of sandal-wearing wannabes the role went to Ben Forster who joins three well-known faces which would seem out of place kneeling before the alter.
The new production of Jesus Christ Superstar sees atheist Tim Minchin play Judas, ex-saviour of Radio 1 Chris Moyles cast as King Herod and Mel C, who left behind four disciples for a failed solo career a few years ago fore-fill the role of Mary Magdalene.
We take our seats at Wembley Arena recently purchasing a bottle of holy water sold at the kiosk to catch this new musical which opens with anti-war newsreels and members of an occupy movement fighting their cause on the streets of Nazareth behind images posters asking people to use #Thetwelve, film inserts of tweets and emails enquiring ‘What’s the Buzz?’ it’s clear the biblical story has been revamped for this modern testament age. Yet the tale which has been told through nearly every school play since AD is easily identified, it does take a short while to adapt to this new way of twenty-first century angle of story-telling.
Disgruntled with Jesus’s views an organisation titled ‘Super Omnes’ (portraying the Romans and Pharisees) track his decreasing popularity from his followers and plan to assonate this troubled leader. Their alibi comes in the form of Judas who shares their concerns as well as being troubled by his soul mate’s relationship with Mary, his anger is further fuelled throughout the first act when he witnesses Jesus leaving him at the pearly gates of a nightclub and unable to cope with the increasing demands from those wishing to be healed.
After our twenty minutes of lent avoiding temptation of the fruits available in Wembley’s concourse we return to our seats for psalm 2, (unfortunately our water has yet to turn into wine)
Back on the streets of Nazareth Judas returns with a confessional complex after betraying his fellow companion, what follows is parallel to the words found in the book which accommodates hotel rooms across the country. The twelve occupy members (christened names such as Peter, Paul...) disown Jesus who is arrested on the grounds of his immoral beliefs.
Distancing itself once again from the original storyline Jesus finds himself on a television show introduced by the king, titled ‘Hark With Herold’. The studio audience are prompted for applause in this X Factor rendition of a show where a scouted contestant is questioned to weather he is a Lord or a Fraud, the rigged result concludes the latter and Jesus is sentenced to crucifixion where he is re-united with Judas who has hanged himself after committing his deadly sin.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a speculator new performance with the lyrical genius talents one expects from the composer who gave us Phantom, Cats and many more memorable plays. Lloyd Webber actually made an appearance tonight in person thanking the cast and dedicating the show to ‘Sarah’ who was by his side when he initially penned the musical.
Jesus Christ Superstar is touring the UK; it may not be near your hometown, but try and catch it for yourself as the pilgrimage to your nearest theatre is a small sacrifice to make...
Friday 19 Oct – 20 Oct - The Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
Sunday 21 Oct – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield.
Please contact the venues directly for information on accessibility.
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