I’m a big fan of musicals, and try to see as many as I can when they’re in Australia. When I heard Jesus Christ Superstar was coming for an Australian tour, I immediately called my musical-loving cousins and made plans to go. I had never seen JCS before, but it had Tim Minchin in it, and I had only heard good things, so I didn’t think twice about shelling out money for the best possible seats.
I am so glad I did.
It was seriously one of the best musicals I have ever seen.
This version took the original story and placed it in a contemporary context (the “Occupy” movements, financial worries in Europe, etc.) which was so perfect I actually can’t imagine it in a traditional context. There were lots of tattooed dancers, Judas and Mary Magdalene with dreadlocks, and a Jesus (Ben Forster) in jeans. Basically, it was a modern AU of the last week of Jesus life. Bible fanfic. It was amazing.
Tim Minchin played Judas Iscariot, the supposed “villain” of Jesus’ last days. Except Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story from his perspective and by the end of it I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him not to worry about stupid Jesus. In the contemporary context, Judas’ betrayal and worries made so much sense, and the moments where he broke down were so powerful. Dressed in a hoodie and chain smoking, Judas just worried that his friend had let the attention get to his head. And he was only ever trying to help, and it just left him hanging from a tree. Tim Minchin was 110% brilliant and perfect and just wow. He was the definite star of the show, and I honestly cannot imagine anyone else playing Judas ever again.
Mel C (aka Sporty Spice) played Mary Magdalene, and it’s not her fault, but every time she opened her mouth all I could think was “lol spice girls”. Interestingly, her bio in the program did not mention her role in the mega-band at all.
The definite stand-out performance of the night however belonged to Andrew O’Keefe (yes, of Deal Or No Deal and Weekend Sunrise fame). As King Herod, his talk-show themed song was utterly hilarious and perfect and had the whole arena in hysterics.
There were no extravagant sets – just a stage filled by a giant staircase and a giant screen that was used to play video clips and share messages such as “#followthetwelve”. The ensemble had fold out tents and iPads, and when it was time for the crucifixion (the one traditional part they stuck with), Jesus was strung up on two lighting poles. It was awesome.
At the end of the spectacular, the actors did their bows and then danced on stage for a while. Tim Minchin and Ben Forster made sure they went right to the edges of the stage and waved to the people up the very back of the arena. The cast laughed and danced, and you could tell they were having so much fun. And so were we.
I went in with few expectations, and came out with my mind absolutely blown. Seeing Wicked on Broadway was amazing, but this amped up Musical Theatre to the next level.
I just wish it was in Australia longer than a couple of weeks so I could see it again (and again, and again, and again). My parents have tickets to see it in Melbourne next weekend, so I might just have to steal theirs.
It’s been twelve hours since I left the arena and I am still 110% not over how brilliant it was. I had a HUGE smile on my face from the moment the opening sequence began, until the actors ran off the stage at the end. It was addictive, it was perfect, and it was an amazing retelling of the last days of Jesus Christ (something I’d never contemplated before).
If you missed catching it live, the DVD of the UK production (the same production with a few changes in the cast) will be released in Australia on the 4th of July. Do yourself a favour and buy it as soon as you can.
frangipani princess xoxo