I AM a bit of a traditionalist. I believe that musical theatre should be just that – music in a theatre.
However, all my beliefs and principals of what musical theatre should and shouldn’t be have been blown out of the water by a production which literally knocked me for six.
The arena tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS to the likes of you and me) has been given a brand new look.
Now set in the 21st century with clever Twitter and Facebook twists, rioting and general unruly behaviour, the story follows the last seven days of Jesus’ life and the impact Judas Iscariot’s betrayal had on the Messiah and his followers.
The show is a very clever piece of writing – based on the most famous book in the world – highlighting the fact that social and cultural issues haven’t really changed that much in 2000 years.
Although Jesus (Ben Forster winner of ITV’ Superstar competition) is key to the story and is the glue which holds everyone together, it is Judas who is the protagonist in this tale.
Tim Minchin portrays the tormented betrayer perfectly - the angst is compelling, and his distaste for the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdelene (Mel C) is mesmerising, as is Magelene’s adoration for the Messiah which becomes the heartbeat of the tale.
Chris Moyles is magnificent as King Herod. His take on the decadent and flamboyant scene where Herod taunts and mocks Jesus encouraging him to perform miracles is acted out in the style of an American talk show host (you know the one …). Who knew that Moyles had such wonderful comic timing?
But the show isn’t just about these four characters - its about the whole ensemble, including the big screen which isn’t just to project the show to the audience it IS part of the show. Each and everyone one of the cast one plays their role to perfection - from tumblers to singers to dancers to henchmen. The pitch perfect tones, the songs I had forgotten I loved, the clever choreography and the ingenious staging.
However, it is when the story comes to its climax, when Pilate sentences Jesus to 39 lashings and reluctantly agrees to crucify him, that my tears began to flow.
The production is fast, furious and totally heartbreaking, and although I knew the ending before the show started I wasn’t quite prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions it took me on.
An epic piece of theatre which translated perfectly to the larger stage of the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham.