Review: Jesus Christ Superstar
Where: Metro Radio Arena
When: 8pm, 6th October 2013
Who: Ben Forster (as Jesus), Mel C (as Mary Magdalene), Tim Minchin (as Judas Iscariot), Chris Moyles (as King Herod)
A production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar. The show is a rock opera that passionately and dramatically portrays the last seven days of Jesus’s life. Loosely based on the Biblical accounts, it puts a contemporary spin on the story of Jesus’s last days and emphasizes the difficult relationship between Jesus and Judas (not featured in the Bible).
The star-studded cast included the fantastic Ben Forster, winner of ITV’s Superstar competition, as Jesus and Melanie Chisholm (Mel C) of the Spice Girls as Mary Magdalene. Initially Chisholm seemed an unusual choice for the role of one of Jesus’s dearest and closest friends, but it felt surprisingly believable as she poured every ounce of her emotion into songs, including as “I don’t know how to love him”.
Tim Minchin really shines in his role as Judas Iscariot, famously known for betraying Jesus with a kiss. Again, to me at first it seemed like a strange choice to put a comedian in such a serious role, but I could not have been more impressed with the sheer passion and energy he put in.
Finally, Chris Moyles as King Herod briefly lifts the intensity of the show as he struts about the stage in a dashing red velvet suit, hosting a light-hearted game-show trial of Jesus and throwing in the odd Geordie phrase (he refers to Jesus as “canny pet”!).
Behind the cast and supporting actors, who were equally impressive, a large screen added a movie-like feel and successfully helped to pick up the raw emotion on the faces of the cast, which would have otherwise been much harder to see from the back of the arena.
On its second visit to Newcastle, it was made clear why Jesus Christ Superstar has been so popular with audiences worldwide. The brilliantly composed songs will be in your head for days, and the effort that the cast put in to the performance is admirable.
Ben Forster was particularly remarkable, with his pitch-perfect and powerful voice resounding around the arena he grasped the attention of every member of the audience.
Despite being faced with the obvious challenges of performing a play meant for a smaller theatre to a huge arena, the cast surpass all expectations and make this a must-see show for all theatre goers.
Edited by James Dix