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Review of "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR"
By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 29th October 2012.

Laurence Connor's "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR" (1971/2012)
Release Date 8th November 2012
Category Rock Opera
Running Time 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
Rating exempt from classification as "live" concert program
Origin The Musical Stage, UK
Awards
Director Laurence Connor
Stars Tim Minchin (Judas Iscariot), Melanie C (Mary Magdalene), Chris Moyles (King Herod) and Ben Forster (Jesus).
http://www.jesuschristsuperstarmovie.com.au
http://www.jesuschristsuperstar.com 8th November 2012
Distributor Universal Pictures Australia

Review: JESUS CHRIST MOVIE STAR
- Jayne Waterford

Rice and Webber's "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR" (2012) is the ultimate retro-classic experience. The "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR" PR Creative team wax lyrical about a reinvention of a rock opera classic

but there's nothing new here. Crowds dance in a vision of contemporary dress of the day. The costumes of 2012 speak the same language as those in 1972: young, not poor, contemporary, arty, university student.

Mind you it's fascinating.

It's the story of a contemporary young man who has new ideas that upset the people in suits who run things. However, we never find out what these ideas are or how they differ from the fascists. The Jesus figure is postured as a rebel. He simply went too far and is chased. He ends up angst-ridden, doubting, wondering if he'd got it wrong, feeling abandoned and finally executed but is peeled off the cross bleeding and weak and berrated by a ressurrected Judas.

Like Franics Assisi, in his Christmas story before them and Mel Gibson's "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST" (2004) after them, in 1970-71, Rice and Webber plundered many different books, circa 1st century, and threw everything written about Jesus the man into a linear story. The libreto became a litany of sayings to scene blocking in which a persecuted, sweet figure moves or is dragged. We're at a loss as to why.

They then name him after a popular confusion of the time. Jesus Christ. Any techinical theologian could tell you Jesus didn't become the Christ until until after his death. But with all the sayings from books with different aims and points to make, thrown in, who's to tell? It was the contemporary understanding of who Jesus was in the opinon of church going people, untrained in academics, historico-critical techniques or the bible. He was JESUS CHRIST, a man betrayed by his friend/employee.

And suitably, as the Christ figure, Jesus is decked out in very simple soft and well-groomed shapes. His emaculate hair, scarf, coat and face are rounded into an iconic form not unlike Julia Guillard berrating tony Abbott or portraits of the virgin queen,

Jesus Christ being loved up by the woman who is with him now, Mary Magdalene (Melanie C & Ben Forster)
Simon & Zealotes (Giovanni Spano)
Rice and Webber do seem to get the gist that many of Jesus' followers were already of a rebelous state of mind. Iscariot means dagger and a few seemed to be rebels.
Elziabeth I's iconography, like an icon to be adored and to rule.

Tim Minchin as Judas the dagger, on the other hand, is covered in contemporary ink and dreads that are a little frayed, more like a four titted dog.

I'm old enough to have sung these songs however I went to a Catholic school and was not allowed to see the musical - er - opera. Seeing Connor's film was the first time I've seen the whole thing, with songs in sequence and I was surprised at how long it took to get through all of them. It made me wonder at how much time I must have spent singing the damn things.

"JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR" had the effect of sorting out my chlidhood. Taking many moments filled with many songs and putting them in sequence, condensced. Mary Magdalene singing "I Don't Know How to Love Him," was a true goose-bump moment. It was only into the song that I recalled how Marcia Hines sounded.

The stage, for it is a film of a threater production, was interesting. It's a pity it wasn't utlised to its full extent from the beginning of the production. The

whole stage was a set of stairs. At the outset a vast number of people (zealots) dancing in a carcophany confused us. Unfortunately they dance as if there's no sex going on backstage, not like the 70s. Later the giant screen the full width of the stage was used to change sets. When Jesus was arrested and moved around to Pontius Pilates' palace for a sequence of trials and challenges whole buildings were projected at the top fo the stairs. I allowed myself to belive the staircase was not a regal palace setting and I was moved to a new loation, I was amazed by it. I lvoe it when you're transported by that theatre magic.

Prison was another distinct environment with silhouette of razor-wire and prison walls at sunset projected across the stage. It was another tangible place.

But thankfully, this is an opera, Jesus can sing. And Ben Forster can sing. The production allows us to have new pleasures as Ben is shown, haulled about, sung at and with, haulled about and then lte the peice is given a solo. Ben Forster then wows us with a voice of surpassing beauty.

Simon also sings in gorgeous tones.
Jesus Christ (Ben Forster) comforts Judas Iscariot (Tim Minchin) after Judas betrays him with a kiss.
King Herod (Chris Moyles) plays the popularity card when interrogating the strapped prisoner Jesus Christ (Ben Forster).
What we're entertained with is a story of six people set to songs. It's interesting, if confused.

It's a rock opera. It's Andrew Lloyd Webber. It's one of the definitive stage experiences of our age. It's the precursor to all other Webber travesties. It's only on for a week. Don't buy the DVD. Put on your best dreads and go see it. 7/10

Official Blurb "Following a triumphant opening weekend at London's 02 Arena, universal Pictures Australia is delighted to announce that the 21st century re-invention of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera 'Jesus Christ Superstar' will be filmed on 4th and 5th Ocotber and shown in selected cinemas worldwide, including Australian screens from November 8, 2012 for one week only.

s "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR" is a worldwide phenomenon, portraying the story of the last seven days of Christ leading up to his crucifixion as seen through the eyes of, 'Judas Iscariot,' and featuring hit songs such as, 'Superstar,' 'I Don't Know How to Love Him,' 'Heaven on Their Minds' and 'Hosanna.' Over 40 different cast recordings have been released in 19 different languages." - Universal Pictures Australia PR


Following a triumphant opening weekend at London's 02 Arena, Universal Pictures Australia is delighted to announce that the 21st century re-invention of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" will be filmed and shown in selected cinemas worldwide, including Australian screens from November 8, 2012 for one week only.

Prior to filming Andrew Lloyd Webber said, "I have waited 42 years for, "Jesus Christ Superstar," to play arenas in the UK, and it is great to finally see the show as it was originally intended, as an arena rock opera. I'm thrilled that Universal will be filming the new arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar for cinema release, which allows us to capture this amazing production and share it with the world!"

The 21-date arena tour, the first ever in the UK, features

Jesus Christ (Ben Forster) crucified in Guantanamo Bay orange on a rock opera light rigging.
a star-studded line-up which includes award-winning musical comedian and co-writer of West End smash musical Matilda, Australia's own Tim Minchin in the role of 'Judas Iscariot'; pop icon and former Spice Girl Melanie C as 'Mary Magdalene'; radio DJ Chris Moyles in his stage debut as 'King Herod'; and the winner of the UK's primetime ITV show 'Superstar,' Ben Forster, who was chosen by the British public to take on the title role of 'Jesus'.

An award-winning creative team has been assembled to transform this legendary rock musical into a unique, contemporary, state-of-the-art spectacular. Director Laurence Connor, known for his work on the 25th anniversary performances and concerts for, "Les Miserables," and, "The Phantom of the Opera," works alongside Mark Fisher, the acclaimed world-leading set designer responsible for the staging of the Diamond Jubilee music concert in front of Buckingham Palace, and Patrick Woodroffe who worked on the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, to create a conceptual masterpiece.

The filmed event will be screened on over sixty screens in Australia from November 8, 2012 for one week only.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" is a worldwide phenomenon, portraying the story of the last seven days of Christ leading up to his crucifixion as seen through the eyes of 'Judas Iscariot', and featuring hit songs such as 'Superstar', 'I Don't Know How To Love Him', 'Heaven On Their Minds' and 'Hosanna'. Over 40 different cast recordings have been released in 19 different languages.

The first production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" was a US arena tour in 1971. It then debuted on Broadway, and, in 1972, UK fans finally got their chance to see this landmark show when it arrived at London's Palace Theatre - its run of eight years and over 3,000 performances smashed all box office records. Since then, Jesus Christ Superstar has rarely left the stage, with professional productions in 42 countries around the world and with around 300 amateur productions officially licensed each year." Universal Pictures Australia PR