As the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar take their bows at the end of the show at London’s O2, Andrew Lloyd Webber strides on stage with a microphone to say what a joy it to see his musical being performed in a proper rock venue.
This 2012 production, streaming on YouTube over the Easter weekend, doesn’t stint on the spectacle, but it does sometime feel like it’s trying too hard to justify its place in such a vast arena. Despite a giant screen showing close-ups, flashing social media messages, and even lashings of blood, I do wonder how engaging it would have felt sitting at the back. At least this version puts the audience right there on stage.
Director Laurence Connor gives the story a present-day twist inspired by the Occupy protest movement, which allows for an impressive opening scene involving riot police and pop-up tents. And the decision to put Jesus on trial by TV with Chris Moyles’s Herod as a red-suited game show host (“TEXT Lord or Fraud”!) works bizarrely well.
While I enjoyed Ben Forster’s emotional portrayal of Jesus, and Mel C as Mary Magdalene, it is Tim Minchin’s dreadlocked Judas who is the real star of the show. He snarls and smoulders like a proper villain. But what a heavenly voice.
Jesus Christ Superstar can be watched here until 7pm on Easter Sunday.