Sunday, 30 December 2012

Jesus Christ Superstar Live Arena Tour 2012 DVD Review

Written By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
Directed By Laurence Connor

Genre
Religious, Musical, Stage Show

Cast

Ben Forster as Jesus Christ
Tim Minchin as Judas Escariot
Chris Moyles as King Herod
Melanie C as Mary Magdalene
Alex Hanson as Pontus Pilate

Certificate E

Synopsis

Celebrating 40 years since it first opened in London's West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production of Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Laurence Connor, promises to be the rock event of 2012.

The star-studded line-up includes award-winning musical comedian Tim Minchin for the role of 'Judas Iscariot'. Three million album selling pop icon and former Spice Girl Melanie C will take the only female lead as 'Mary Magdalene'. BBC Radio 1's Breakfast Show host Chris Moyles will make his major stage debut as 'King Herod' and Winner of the ITV primetime show 'Superstar' Ben Forster in the title role of 'Jesus' in the 21st century 'Rock Musical' re-invention of Jesus Christ Superstar.

An award-winning creative team have transformed this legendary rock musical into a unique state-of-the-art spectacular. Director Laurence Connor, known for his work on the 25th anniversary performances and concerts for Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, will work alongside Mark Fisher, the acclaimed world-leading set designer responsible for the staging of the Diamond Jubilee music concert in front of Buckingham Palace. They will be joined by internationally renowned lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe, who worked on the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Both Mark and Patrick have worked on global arena and stadium tours for some of the world's biggest music acts including the Rolling Stones and U2.

Special Features
  • An Introduction By Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Behind The Scenes

Review

I have always been a massive fan of the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber and 'Jesus Christ Superstar' has always been one of his best in my opinion.  When I heard that he was going to reimagine it, that had me worried.

How on Earth could you reimagine one of the most well known and iconic musicals without it falling flat on it's face?

Well, I shouldn't have been worried because this new staging is absolutely incredible and now I wish I had had the chance to see it live.

The new modern setting, along with massive video screens and massive fight scenes between police and gangs brings the musical bang up to date and really packs a gigantic impact.

The use of the video screens to show clips, 'adverts', protests and even a scene involving King Herod being reinvented as a talk show host is inspired.  They really had a hell of a lot to the story itself, especially during the brutal crucifixion scene.

Don't worry about the classic songs being changed.  They haven't been.  They are here in all their glory but backed with some of the best rock music that I have ever heard in a musical.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it surpasses the work that the band in 'We Will Rock You' do, it really is that good.

However good the setting and staging is, it would all be for nothing if the cast wasn't up to the task of making the characters believable but that's not a problem here.  One of the most surprising cast members is Chris Moyles.  I'm not a fan of his in the slightest so when they announced that he would be cast in the role of King Herod, I have to admit that I was worried.  I shouldn't have been because while his role may not be as long as the other leads, his performance makes it very memorable.

Melanie C, of 'Spice Girls' fame, is a superb choice for Mary Magdalene.  Her voice is remarkably strong and she makes the character very sympathetic.

Ben Forster, who plays Jesus, does a great job in the iconic role managing to make the character brave and memorable without falling in to any of the cliches that can sometimes befall other portrayals of the character.

However, there is one cast member that rules above them all by giving one of the best performances in a musical that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.  Tim Minchin, known for his rock comedy songs, puts his strong rock voice to the test here and absolutely knocks the songs 'out of the park' as the saying goes.  Not only does he make the songs his own but his performance here makes Judas a multi-layered character being equal parts menacing / hateful and sympathetic.  There's a scene after he betrays Jesus that will really stay with you but I won't spoil that for you here.

The special features let the release down a little by only having an introduction by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber and a behind the scenes featurette.  I would have liked to have seen more information on how they reimagined such an iconic musical or a deeper look at how they cast it etc but the things that are here are still good.  I just wish there were a little more.

There is one thing to warn you viewers about though.  While the release is classified as Exempt, there are some scenes that would be very distressing to children so I would recommend it for teens and up but maybe that's just me.

All in all, this is one of the best stagings of the iconic and legendary musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  The cast is spot on and the songs are given a rock tint with massively successful results.  It's honestly worth seeing this just for the performances alone, especially that of Tim Minchin as Judas.

Essential for all musical fans and especially of Minchin fans.

Movie 4/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 5/5
Special Features 3/5
Overall 16/20

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