Music Reviews – Jesus Christ Superstar 2012/2013 Arena Tour


So… maybe you’ve heard of this?

jesus-christ-superstar-live-arena-tour-x

Before the fold, I’ll say this. I’m really not a fan of musical theatre.  I just don’t like the style. I’ve largely been bored to tears by almost all of the musical theatre shows I’ve seen, especially Broadway. Broadway is more unoriginal than Hollywood… hell, Broadway’s more unoriginal than fucking Disney! And that, my friends, is a feat.

That said…

There are a select few musicals that I do adore:

Rent, Into the Woods (I played the Mysterious Man and understudied the Baker in a High School production of this), Spamalot, The Book of Mormon, The Producers, Guys and Dolls, Sweeney Todd…

And Jesus Christ Superstar

When I was younger, I always wanted to play Jesus. I mean… I know it’s weird that an atheist, born into a Jewish family, would want to play Jesus… but damnit it would have been an amazing role!

Of course, I’m older now, and don’t have the singing range I used to have (before I turned 18, I could sing the fuck out of Gethsemane… now, at only 25, I just can’t hit those notes… and yes, it does depress me). Plus, after having seen/listened to various different versions of the show many times, I find the role of Judas Iscariot more enticing; not to mention the fact that my favorite song of the show is the title track Superstar. So yes, I still want to be in the show… but as Judas.

But this isn’t about my wish to be in the show.

This is about the 2012/2013 Arena Tour.

I bought it on DVD. Sadly, I live in the States, and don’t have a region-free player. I also don’t (at this moment) have a computer I could rip a DVD to (I’m using a netbook right now). So I looked around and found a torrent I could download to watch it while I’m saving up for a computer.

And my verdict?

I fucking loved it! FIVE STARS! TWO THUMBS UP! AWARD-DESERVING

So here’s the skinny:

It features Tim Minchin (one of the best comedians, pianists, and lyricists of the modern age, IMO; and a wonderful singer, too) as Judas Iscariot, Melanie Chisholm (one of the Spice Girls) as Mary Magdelene, and a guy named Ben Forester as Jesus Christ.

That last belies one of my only two complaints of the show:

Andrew Lloyd Webber did a reality TV show to let London choose who would play Jesus.

Why?

Why the fuck would anyone turn to a goddamned American Idol-reality format to choose the actor for the lead character? Could they really not find anybody to match Tim and Melanie in star power?

Really?

However, I have to file that complaint away. Now, granted, I never saw the TV show… I know fuck all about the others who auditioned. So all I know is Ben’s performance from the actual production, and I thought he was brilliant. He was emotional, strong, and moving. He gave a very believable, very powerful performance as Jesus Christ. I was very happy with him. Regardless of how he got the part, he did an amazing job and deserves major accolades… even awards… for it. I’ve no doubt that this performance will catapult him to fame; I certainly hope so… though as an actor as opposed to singer. The last thing this world needs is another reality-TV-chosen autotuned “pop star”.

Tim Minchin as Judas was absolutely flawless, IMO. I kind of expected him to be, to be honest, so my expectations of him were already high, and he really didn’t disappoint me… at all.

I wish, like hell, that Tim would bring his comedy act to the states for a major tour and HBO special… with a band and orchestra. I want him interviewed by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I want his name in the papers over here. He’s such a big name across the Atlantic, but here in the States he’s practically non-existent. And I really can’t figure out why. He’s better than most American comedians, IMO… in fact, I currently have him as my all-time favorite comedian, taking the spot from Jon Stewart (who’s now number 2).

Overseas comedians are simply better. They don’t rely on shock and offense to make people laugh. But that’s another blog post, which I absolutely will be writing… probably very soon…

But Tim was perfect as Judas. He portrayed Judas exactly as I always imagined him. Tim was better than all the others that have come before him, IMO.

Melanie C as Mary Magdelene was another amazing choice.

Now, among my many great shames, slobbering over the Spice Girls when I was a young teen is one of my bigger ones. In my defense, I was 13 when they were huge. Literally everybody loved the Spice Girls, and I would do anything at the time to fit in, as nobody liked me. So I started listening to the Spice Girls because everybody else was. And I did like them… though more for their looks than their music.

I actually didn’t know Melanie was a Spice Girl, however, when I first heard about this Arena Tour revival on Tim Minchin’s website.

I stopped being into the Spice Girls when I was 15, when I started listening to Classic Rock, Blues, Acid Rock, and Progressive Rock. I had long-since forgotten which Spice Girl was which, and their real names.

I looked up a few of the different actors and actresses, and was surprised to read that she was Sporty Spice. And, honestly, despite my younger self (listening to music largely with my penis as opposed to me ears), I didn’t expect much from her, because when I look back at the Spice Girls and their music, it’s largely the same-old bubble-gum pop: over-produced and over-sexualized with no imagination. Not bad necessarily. Just… not much there. So what I expected was a Spice Girl Mary Magdelene.

But boy was I wrong. In fact, I actually really feel bad for being so damn off. I feel like I should apologize to Melanie for thinking that way. She was incredible. She’s my favorite Mary Magdelene beyond doubt. I hope she’s remembered for this stunning performance for the rest of her life, because she deserves it. She was so. Fucking. Good. A perfect Mary Magdelene, in my humble opinion. Absolutely perfect.

As for the concept… they took the story of Jesus out of alternative 4 BC Israel and put him in modern England-Israel. They performed it in huge arenas with moving stairs and a giant TV screen behind it. They truly brought it in to the modern world, using the high priests to blast bankers, King Herod to blast reality TV (rather ironically… I think), and so on. It was very well done.

But I do have one other complaint.

I have no clue how obvious it was when seeing it live, but there was so much autotune that was annoyingly obvious on the recording. It was mostly on Tim. Listen to Heaven on Their Minds and Superstar and you can hear it quite easily. And honestly… I really don’t understand it. Tim may not have the most trained voice in the world, but did he really need the help of such a pathetic and horrible technology like autotune? I’ll write another post about my issues with autotune and why I think it sucks so fucking much, with only one exception, but, suffice it to say, I really don’t like it.

Beyond that, however, (and wondering if Anthony Stewart Head would have done just as well, if not better, as Pilate… although I do think Alex Hanson did a great job, so it’s not a comment on him… he was amazing) this show is incredible. My only hope now is that this original 2012 Arena Tour cast is brought over here to the US. I think we deserve to be exposed to this mind-blowing epic…

And, personally, I would love to see it live without having to spend hundreds or thousands on plane tickets to the UK and more on a hotel… I just can’t afford that. So maybe I’m being a bit selfish, but… can we get this to States?

Please?

Maybe I should start a petition?

Who’d sign it?

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About Nathan Hevenstone

I hate straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men. I also play guitar and sing, and I'm an atheist and anti-theist. What now?
This entry was posted in Broadway, Music, Music Reviews, Musical Theatre and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Music Reviews – Jesus Christ Superstar 2012/2013 Arena Tour

  1. Kristine says:

    Hi, I bet you probably know this by now since you wrote this a year ago, but there was no autotune live at all. They did that just for the dvd, which was a terrible shame, seeing as Tim sounds like this without it:

    .

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