Superstar shines in the age of celebrity
Set against the social unrest of the London riots, the social media explosion and the cult of celebrity, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical, like the gospel message it is based on, is more relevant than ever with the new arena spectacular show Jesus Christ Superstar touring Australia in June.
This was a point not lost on Ben Forster who stars as Jesus, the role he secured last year after winning the “gruelling” reality show Superstar prior to a tour of the UK.
“This is what proves that it is an amazing piece of work. It can be related to any time and place. If you hadn’t seen the show before you could believe that it had been conceived last year,” said Forster on a recent trip to Australia to promote the musical.
“You could believe that it’s a completely fresh idea that would have been genius now and it was genius in 1970. It absolutely goes to the relevance of the message. It is an amazing story and it is an amazing concept.
“It’s madness that a musical has been made of it and that it should work whenever it is performed. It’s 100 per cent relevant.”
Playing the Son of God opposite Melanie C as Mary Magdalene and Tim Minchin as Judas, Forster says he is “so pleased I get to act with him on stage”.
“I couldn’t have been blessed with a better Judas. And Melanie is just wonderful. Considering she’s a Spice Girl and could be a diva, she’s a superstar. She gets right in there in the thick of it and rehearses with everyone, putting her heart on the table as well. She’s brilliant and I adore her.”
Australian cast members for the tour include Jon Stevens as Pontius Pilate and Andrew O’Keefe as Herod — in this version of the show a game show host.
“Andrew Lloyd Webber is clever,” said Forster. “The point of the show is about focusing on someone’s downfall and how Jesus could have believed his hype. It’s about how Jesus could have become a celebrity and that he would arrogantly question what God had planned for him.
“Part of all that is him being questioned by the public on a TV show. It’s so relevant and using actors like Chris Moyles and now Andrew O’Keefe [for the Australian shows] is another strategy for the audience to believe in our concept for the show — it’s just perfect.”
Set among the London riots, the show begins as a Molotov cocktail is thrown at riot police and in the iconic anthem “What’s the buzz” the stage is alive with Twitter and Facebook feeds.
With a global tour planned, following more touring in the UK later this year, is Forster daunted by playing the Son of God?
“I mean even if I just look at Jesus as the artistic role within the show, it’s the hardest part for a man in any musical.”
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