Sunday, 11 November 2012

Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Tour Movie *****


What: Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Tour, Universal Pictures
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: *****

The filmed version of the UK Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Tour left me breathless and gob-smacked at the quality of the production, Laurence Connor's stage direction and performances by Tim Minchin and Ben Forster.

Minchin's exceptional vocal and performance skill in music theatre is a discovery for me, although I've always liked him as a comedy-cabaret performer. His interpretation of Judas in this Arena production is charismatic, sympathetic and strangely alluring, considering how Judas betrays Jesus to the Pharisees.

Forster's Jesus is naive and sensitive, intensely human and afraid in the face of his impending sacrificial death and his crucifixion scene is beautifully staged and profoundly moving.

Ex-Spice Girl, Mel C, is affecting and credible as Mary Magdalene and the rest of the leads are equally compelling.

Chris Moyles plays King Herod as a glitzy, wildly popular television show host who whips the crowd into a frenzy over Jesus and views everything in terms of ratings.

Alex Hansen has a fine voice and depicts Pilate as a political animal who wants to help but is swayed by the crowd, his advisers and the pressure of getting on with his tennis match.

In this version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s highly successful musical, a na├»ve Jesus is fighting a losing battle as an idealist trapped in a world of politicians, religious leaders, cult followers, desperate youth and a media circus.

Connor's production is cunningly updated to include projections, tweets, graffiti and a chorus of dread-locked ferals as Jesus's followers. The world of Jesus comes into the 21st century with a powerful urgency that resembles a youthful, political revolution.

This production would be spectacular live but reaches new dimensions on screen with vivid close ups and multi-camera filming that allow the viewer to climb inside this dangerous and passionate world of social upheaval and personal betrayal.

By Kate Herbert

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