It has been 20 years since the last major production of Jesus Chris Superstar played for Australia. This current tour is the big budget, 21st Century London production featuring the UK’s main stars Tim Minchin, Ben Forster and Mel C.
The new production of Jesus Christ Superstar caters for everyone from Spice Girls fans to those who were at the original crucifixion.
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has completely reinvented the visuals for this show, setting it in modern times in a riot torn city. The characters are in jeans, t-shirts and hoodies, they have tats, they tweet, they text. When the time comes to decide if Jesus is “Lord” or “Fraud” it is done via text voting in a reality TV show.
The star of Jesus Christ Superstar is without a doubt the remarkable Tim Minchin. Minchin, who plays Judas, was already a name in Australia on the comedy circuit before scoring the role for the London production. He was also seen recently playing fading rock star Atticus Fetch in David Duchovny’s ‘Californication’.
Minchin is a powerful Judas. The insanity of his ‘Californication’ character is channeled into his Judas to give this performance a menacing but compassionate flavor. The Minchin Judas looks like a rock star in this production but Tim balances the star power with a flawed character who can’t live after betraying his mate for money.
Newcomer Ben Forster is Jesus. Forster has had roles in the London productions of Grease and The Rocky Horror Show. He has a big job. Forget the turning water into wine part. That’s easy. Forster has to turn the 14,000 punters in the audience into satisfied concert-goers and he does that with ease.
Mel C, the Spice Girl, is Mary Magdalene. She plays a major role in this show and was barely recognized by the audience when she sings her first song. Mel C is very much a support act in this production. At the end of the show, the big applause goes to Tim and Ben despite Mel delivering the two best known songs in the show ‘Everything’s Alright’ and ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’.
Jon Stevens played Judas in the last major production with John Farnham and Kate Ceberano. On this tour plays Pontus Pilate, but instead of the ancient Roman robes, he is dressed a modern day judge. Stevens doesn’t have much stage time in this show but takes full advantage of his few songs and holds the audience during his moments out front.
For a 40-year old musical the songs stand up well in 2013. Jesus Christ Superstar was the third musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. They were 21-years old when they wrote it.
Jesus Christ Superstar has two more performances today (Sunday, Jun 16) in Melbourne and finishes in Brisbane on Tuesday, June 18.