Australian audiences will get to see the revamped Jesus Christ Superstar arena rock show next year, with Andrew Lloyd Webber pledging to bring the show Down Under, after a blockbuster opening night at London's 02 Arena last month.
Lloyd Webber has created a 21st century take on Jesus Christ Superstar, which is a far cry from the 1970's version which first hit our shores.
The show stars Australian Tim Minchin as Judas Iscariot, former Spice Girl Mel C as Mary Magdalene, Chris Moyles as King Herod and a Jesus Christ handpicked by judges on a British TV talent show, Ben Forster
Tim Minchin, Ben Forster, Chris Moyle and Melanie C. Photo courtesy of Getty Images
At the opening an emotional Lloyd Webber joined his cast on stage after the fifth standing ovation, telling the cheering audience that he'd "waited 42 long years for a big, rock arena tour production like this''.
The very first Superstar was performed in 1971 in an arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: "Tim [Rice] and I always wanted to take Superstar back to its roots…and finally play an arena tour in the UK and in venues where many of the world's great rock acts have gone before,'' he said.
Set among the concrete, glass and high-rise of an anonymous metropolis, the biblical story unfolds in the darkness and social violence of a modern, global financial crisis.
This arena production offers a brilliantly simple new answer to the age-old question of what would Jesus Christ be doing if he came among us today. In Laurence Connor's directorial vision – brought to vigorous, violent life with the help of designers Mark Fisher (set) and Patrick Woodroffe (lighting) – Jesus would be out with the St Paul's protesters, mixing among dreadlocked anarchists, frightening the life out of grey-suited Roman bankers and spreading the Gospel via Twitter.
England’s 2011 riots are evoked by ominous-looking cops (Roman soldiers during the Biblical era), while the followers of Jesus are members of the Occupy movement. Apostolic tweets are writ large on the arena screen. King Herod (depicted by real-world DJ Chris Moyle) is a flashy TV host exhorting a manageable mob to judge the Son of God by texting their verdict: “Lord or Fraud.”
The production, directed by Laurence Connor (Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary tours) topped $A9.3m in advance ticket sales in the UK and more than 74,000 people saw the musical in its first week alone.
The promoters, AEG Live, confirmed that the production will be coming to Australia next year, with dates and details to be announced "soon''.