Jesus Christ Superstar
Tim Minchin, Ben Forster, Alex Hansen, Chris Moyles, Melanie Chisholm
After a centenary of cinema there hasn’t been anything like this: the 2012 version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revolutionary ’70s rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar is audacious in its casting and directional vision. But it works.
Jesus Christ Superstar portrays the story of the last seven days of Christ, leading up to his crucifixion — for the greatest part as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot — and featuring such songs as “Superstar”, “I don’t know how to love him”, “Heaven on their minds” and “Hosanna”.
The cast of this production is a diverse gang: Tim Minchin, musician and comedian, is Judas; Melanie Chisholm, better known as Spice Girl Mel C, plays Mary Magdalene; Ben Forster won the role of Jesus on UK talent show ITV’s Superstar; the musical theatre star Alex Hansen is Pilate; and King Herod is played by DJ Chris Moyles.
Wild-haired Tim Minchin is a dreadlocked anarchist interpretation of Judas Iscariot, while Jesus is a smartly-dressed public speaker who spreads the gospel via Twitter and inspires his young hipster followers with talk that frightens the grey-suited Roman elite.
Laurence Connor’s directional vision is brought to energetic, fierce life through the sound — much like that of an eighties rock gig — combined with contemporary dance and an almost violently powerful light show. The rapidly alternating, very 21st century set is nothing like the somewhat dusty ’70s version.
The film is larger than life: the actors give it all to reach every corner of London’s O2, where the theatrical Arena Tour was filmed, which results in a blazing cinematic experience.
Tim Minchin rocks the stage, proving he is a talented and diverse performer and Mel C demonstrates again that she has outgrown the Spice Girls by light-years.
Ben Forster’s persuasive performance proves that the audience of a talent show can sometimes separate the wheat from the chaff.
This 21st century makeover of Rice and Webber’s 42-year-old rock opera production translates the gospel to a contemporary story about social justice, love, hate, betrayal, disbelief and regret.
It conveys the Christian moral principle of social justice through a modern image of Jesus’ group of rebels against the establishment but also through an anti-capitalist Judas Iscariot.
It is a work about human doubt at least as much as about faith.