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Lord or Fraud?

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
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on Monday, 24 September 2012
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar was a bestselling album before it arrived on and conquered Broadway in 1971. On its arrival in the UK it ran for eight years in the West End to much acclaim. And now the story of Christ with its edgy, rocky score is back in a new arena production by Laurence Connor.

jesus

Sitting front row at the O2, before the show even started I was incredibly excited. And as the ear splittingly loud chords of Jesus Christ Superstar filed the stadium I was on the edge of my seat. The performance kicks off with video and news footage from what looked like last year's London riots, which were then brought to life on stage by an ensembl -  half of the cast as the rioters, the other as police officers in full riot gear. An acrobatic staging of a clash between civilians and the law worked well, and when flames shot up from the stage the chaotic atmosphere was heightened.

Although the use of last year's riots as the back drop for the rise of a new political leader, aka Jesus, was in my opinion, a tad controversial considering the negative message that comes with the London riots. Despite this, the modern take on the passion and crucifixion of Christ did work well.

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The principles Ben Forster, Tim Minchin, Mel C and Chris Moyles played their parts brilliantly. Forster, who won his part after taking part in a televised talent contest quashed any doubts that he was not up to the part the minute he opened his mouth.

Chris Moyles as Herod was incredibly funny and I imagine little acting was involved as his character was not miles away from his real life persona- full of life and incredibly comical. In a world full of television series such as X Factor and Strictly where we are urged to reach for our phones and vote for contestants, the concept of the game show to determine if Jesus is a 'Lord of Fraud' was a clever spin on the story.

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Mel C as the Rasta Mary Magdalene - tattooed, streetwise and down with the kids -  was a brilliant choice and I found her very believable. And at the end of the day as a Spice Girl uber fan back in the day, she couldn't have put a foot wrong in my eyes.

For me, Tim Minchin was the star of the show. He brought an intelligence and desperation to Judas which made his transformation from disciple to traitor and then his consuming guilt all the more real.
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Personally I would say the arena setting took away from the performance. Cameramen running across the stage mid song filming the action so those sitting in the heavens of the venues could see the action gave the whole production a behind the scenes, made for TV feel. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the venue, however, it was a brilliant evening and as I took the tube home I couldn't help but hum the tunes the whole way.

Jesus Christ Superstar runs until the 21 October. For more information and to buy tickets visit www.jesuschristsuperstar.com


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