Some of you may know that back in March my big sis and I headed to Liverpool to see Derren Brown live as part of his Infamous tour, but what you won’t be aware of is that at the same time we were also supposed to go and see Jesus Christ Superstar in Birmingham as part of its second tour of the UK. Unfortunately due to the demands of other countries also wanting to see it, the UK leg was actually postponed until October. After some initial disappointments and having to move flight and hotel bookings and even forking out for a second flight all travel pains had been sorted and we just had to sit back and wait the six months for the show to come back to the UK.
As my sis and I are both fans of Tim Minchin in particular (my sister massively so!), our mum had bought us the tickets for Christmas (thanks mum!) so safe to say when we boarded the plane to fly to Manchester at 7am last Thursday morning we were both pretty excited about what lay ahead.
Me and the sis – excited in the lift shot!
When we finally got into the arena, we found our seats just 9 rows back in row J and I crossed my fingers that at 5ft 4 no one tall would come and sit in front of me. Unfortunately I was not this lucky and of course the one tall guy in the whole of our section came and sat smack bang in front of little ol’ me. But fear not, because the staging itself is very well designed for the perils of flat floored arenas and is actually one entire staircase meaning that a lot of the action goes on higher than eye level so thankfully I only had to spend about 15% of the show bobbing my head around Gigantor. So thanks to the stage designer for sorting that out for me! The use of the large video screen at the top of the stairs not only aided in my being able to see what was going on but also played a pivotal role not only in scene setting and story telling but also served as a stunning backdrop to bring the whole show together.
So onto the show itself, having had little knowledge about the story or the songs, I had no preconceptions of what to expect but can honestly say that the show did not disappoint. As some of you may know the cast is a pretty stellar line up with Tim Minchin playing Judas Iscariot, Melanie C as Mary Magdelane, Chris Moyles as King Herod and finally the winner of ITV’s Superstar Ben Forster in the title role of Jesus.
For me, there were a couple of issues I had mainly due to the music being incredibly loud which sometimes made it hard to hear the cast, which as I didn’t know the story made it difficult to understand what was going on because there is no talking in this at all, so if I couldn’t hear the lyrics I didn’t get the story. Thankfully my sis explained to me some of the bits I’d missed during the interval and the second half was much better, however there was one particular moment where a guitarist comes onto stage with Judas which was ear-burstingly loud and unfortunately lost some of the poignancy of the moment.
My stand out songs were Herod’s Song which is Chris Moyles’ one and only performance, but to say he’s in it for such a short amount of time he really provides the comic relief that is needed in such a generally harrowing story, plus who knew he could even sing?!
Oh heeeeey Chris Moyles – couldn’t stop myself from pulling a Miley!
There were also a number of heart wrenching moments in the second half from Judas’ inner torment at having betrayed his friend, culminating in his eventual suicide which was all done in silhouette to stunning effect to the moments following the crucifixion when the key characters rallied around the body of Jesus in complete silence whilst thousands of rose petals fell from the ceiling. This very nearly had me in tears but somehow I managed to keep myself in check! Kudos to Tim Minchin who arguably had the hardest songs to sing but carried the role incredibly well and has definitely made me to want to go and see him live again – come back to the UK with a new tour soon Tim!
But the most spellbinding performance of the night has to go to Jesus himself. Ben Forster’s performance of Gethsemane was nothing short of stunning. For anyone who has never heard the song, Google it, it has some seriously high notes in it which lets face it men should not be able to hit and only dogs should be able to hear. But that aside Ben performed this song beautifully, completely getting across all the emotion that a song like this demands.
One final mention must go to Melanie C whose character Mary Magdelene managed to do an excellent job of removing Jesus’ shoes whilst making it look like something entirely different *ahem* – think back to the different levels of the staging and imagine her directly in front of Jesus but slightly lower down and I think you’ll get the picture….
The cast doing the encore at the end of the show
So that’s all folks, my whistle-stop tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. For any theatre fans out there who don’t live in London but want a great night of entertainment, show stopping performances and a Chris Moyles/Jeremy Kyle hybrid then this is definitely the show for you! There are still limited tickets available, so if you haven’t got any yet, what are you waiting for?!
The Show Programme
Have any of you been to see the show? What did you think?