Review: Live Arena Tour’s Jesus Christ Superstar

This cannot be considered a true review because I haven’t seen the production in its entirety, however… what I have seen (which is more than plenty) is enough for me to warrant putting my thoughts down on a post and continue on my merry way.

I’ll be brutally honest… first… if I were to do the last year all over again, I would participate in this show once and that is it. Once is more than I am able to stomach and there has to be a damn good reason as to why I would want to participate in the production a second time and in all honesty it wasn’t worthwhile. So by extension I have been adverse to actually since any kind of production of JCS on stage… unless it is for a damn good reason.

Well is Melanie Chisholm and Tim Minchin good enough reasons? After the following live performance with Mel C as Mary, Tim Minchin as Judas, and Ben Forster as Jesus… For me hell yeah!

First off… who doesn’t know Melanie Chisholm aka Mel C from the Spice Girls? Below is her rendition of Mary’s solo: I Don’t Know How to Love Him.

Now a friend of mine and I agree… we cannot stand the various Marys over the years in professional, amateur or community groups going for the “pretty version” of the song. Anne Hathaway says it best in regards to vocalists that sing I Dreamed a Dream:

There seems to be something selfish about trying to go for the pretty version. [Fantine’s] devastated, she’s literally at the bottom of a hole looking up and realizing that she’s never going to climb out of this. So I decided to apply the truth to the melody and then see what would happen.

In a lot of ways this is how I feel about those that sing Mary Magdalene in general, so to hear someone sing with most depth than most people and deeper than most people tend to prefer… it is rather refreshing.

Now take that a step further…

Personally I am sick and tired, and bored (more bored than anything) of seeing groups that decide to produce Jesus Christ Superstar and apply rock, or period, or 1970s elements and sticking with the “tried and true”. Sure some people would like to see the “tried and true” but there is something to be said about updating a piece like JCS and placing it in the 21st century… particularly when it comes to the high priests:

Look at that! Adapting the high priests into the top execs or Top 1%’ers with their Armani suits, arguing around an office table. I was personally hoping to see something like this happen in community theatre… but that would be expecting more than what would have been possible. **le sigh**

I mean with all the “Occupy” protests that happened in the past year… and the growing discontent towards the 1% you would think that applying something like to a production like JCS would be a no-brainer. But enough of my ranting. What the Live Arena Tour also did was outside of the priests being turned into top execs virtually everyone else became the common man…

And as for King Herod? An entertainer. But really was that all that much of a stretch? In fact what happened is that the whole bit at King Herod’s seem to be a game show of some sorts which makes more than enough sense.

The real surprise for me? Tim Minchin as Judas. I mean, I knew he could sing… comedically… through his music… like the Three Minute Song (the below version is from the Royal Variety Show in London 2011):

He also created the music and lyrics for the upcoming Broadway musical: Matilda… which got rave reviews over at the West End. Like I said, I knew he could sing… but not dark… comedies yes… but drama? Then again as a friend of mine once said… drama is easy, comedy is hard.

All in all? This production / version what ever you want to call it will forever be the standard for “classic” shows. Taking risks, going out of the box just to see what would happen. Sometimes it flies and sometimes it fails but this flies… and quite possibly ruined it for me for any other production of JCS that should happen in the future.