Webber resurrects Jesus Christ Superstar for a new generation
Mel C and Tim Minchin star in thrilling, ear-splitting heavy metal revival of 70s rock opera
What you need to know
A revival of the hit 1971 Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, has opened its UK tour at the 02 Arena in Greenwich. The opera began as a hit album featuring songs such as I Don't Know How to Love Him, Everything's Alright and Superstar, before award-winning Broadway and West End shows.
The story is based loosely on the Gospels' account of the last week of Jesus' life, his relationship with his disciples, his betrayal and death by crucifixion. It is a rock era interpretation on a traditional passion play.
The current production stars Ben Forster (winner of the reality show (Superstar) as Jesus, former Spice Girl Mel C as Mary Magdalene, and Australian musical comedian Tim Minchin of Matilda fame as Judas Iscariot. DJ Chris Moyles plays King Herod (pictured above). Touring the UK until 21 October.
What the critics like
It's big, it's loud, it's great entertainment, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. The show "gets the right balance between the spectacular, the jokey and the sincere". Tim Minchin is a compellingly conflicted Judas, Mel C sings beautifully, and Moyles knows just how to sell his comedy number. "It's enough to give rock opera a good name."
Rice and Webber's tremendous rock oratorio is ear-splittingly restored to its heavy metal rock origins in this thrilling production, says Michael Coveney in The Independent. Ben Forster proves a wonderful discovery as Jesus, passing with "flying, high-rock tenor colours". There's another surprise: "that the rock arena concert can be very fine theatre, too".
Ben Forster is incredible in the title role of this new arena tour, says Sarah Bull in the Daily Mail. Mel C also proves that the stunning brunette is much more than a former girl band member. But "there is only one true superstar in the show" - Tim Minchin, who manages the challenging role of Judas with ease.
What they don't like
It's a bold, brash show that boasts all the look-no-hands youthful glee of Webber's best efforts, says The Guardian. But it requires "a more imaginative, subtle and better acted and sung production" than it gets here. A contemporary spin is fine, but this "production substitutes decibels for drama".