“Listen Jesus, I don’t like what I see…”
Judas mightn’t have much liked what he was seeing, but I can assure you that there was not one second of Jesus Christ Susperstar – The Arena Spectacular that I did not enjoy. It was absolutely amazing. I do not know enough superlatives to describe what I thought of this show. I will admit now that I was pre-disposed to a favourable view towards this show as we did it one year when I was at school, and I loved being part of it.
This is the exact production that toured the UK last year, now out here in Australia, with the same cast, including Mel C, Tim Minchin and Ben Forster.
We got to Rod Laver Arena(where is big games of the Australian Open are held) nice and early, with plenty of time to find our seats, which were fantastic (thank-you Arts-Hub!). We were sitting almost directly under the speaker, so it was extremely loud, but the show was so amazing that that slight irritation didn’t matter.
The point of Jesus Christ Superstar is that it can be fitted into the modern world, and I thought that this has been achieved wonderfully in this production. Hash tags, iPads, celebrity game shows, this production had it all.
Tim Minchin was a fantastic Judas. His songs, notably Heaven on their Minds and whenever he has an altercation with Jesus (think Everything’s Alright, Strange Thing Mystifying) were so powerful, and he did a great job of portraying Judas’s conscience, torn between doing the right thing for Jesus, for his mates, and for the ‘State’. The dynamics between him and Ben Forster were really powerful.
Forster shone throughout the show, and was wonderfully emotive. His Gethsemane was particularly powerful, and he nailed those high notes. He was very much in character throughout the whole show, from the friendly chap just wanting to help in Act I, to the tortured soul facing his fate in Act II. The trial and death scenes were played beautifully.
As a child of the ‘90’s, I was of course a Spice Girls fan, and so was a little bit fan-girly about seeing Mel C, and she didn’t let me down. I thought she fitted the role of Mary Magdalene perfectly, and had great chemistry with Forster. I particularly liked her Could We Start Again Please?
Jon Stevens was great as Pilate. I thought he was channelling a bit Inspector Javert in his Trail costume, but there’s nothing wrong with that! Leon Craig was our Herod, (replacing Andrew O’Keefe, who was injured) and was brilliant, channelling his inner Alan Carr. Cavin Cornwell and Gerard Bentall were Caiaphus and Annas respectively were deliciously evil.
Rory Taylor as Simon Zealots (love the baseball bat!) and Tom Parsons as Peter were brilliant, as was the whole ensemble. The choreography was outstanding and the band and the theatrical design (think 39 Lashes, Judas’s death).
Apologies for the superlatives, but I really, really loved this show. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something I’ve loved this much. If this show is in your city, do what you have to in order to get a ticket. Do not miss out.
Up next: Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake with The Australia Ballet.
All photos, other than the first two which are mine, found here.