WOS TV: Behind the scenes with Jesus Christ Superstar
Tim Minchin (Judas), Ben Forster (Jesus), Mel C (Mary) & Chris Moyles (Herod)
Laurence Connor's production is set in the present day, and features Herod reimagined as a talk show host, a grunge-inspired Mary Magdalene and Judas with dreadlocks. Connor's stated aim was to get back to the 1971 musical's rock opera roots, and from the glimpse we saw in rehearsals, he certainly seems to be doing that.
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com at a break in rehearsals in Acton, Chris Moyles, who recently retired from the Radio 1 Breakfast show, said it was a "novelty" having to work after 10am in the morning.
Moyles, who has slimmed down significantly ahead of the tour, added: "I've got the best role in the show - one song that I’m going to nail and everyone else has got at least two! I’m the luckiest one ... I just want to get on with it now."
Of the concept, he said: "I’m like a Saturday night, cheesy television host who looks fabulous and is doing a show with the Jesus of that particular week. I get to play with all the cameras, but I don’t get to look at the audience, or anybody in fact ... it's completely different."
Mel C, who was last on stage in Blood Brothers (for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award), described her latest theatre role as "a fantastic experience".
"We've got a wonderful cast, a great band, amazing director; it’s been so lovely and such a fun show to work on because there’s not been any stress, it’s been very productive in a very positive way," she added. "Now we just want to get out there and see the audience’s reaction."
Of her 'grungy' appearance, the Spice Girls star said: "I think Laurence’s vision for Mary is that she has a tough exterior but Jesus makes her feel so good about herself that she really can reveal her inner self."
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said recently: “Tim (Rice) and I have always wanted to take Superstar back to its roots and we are both delighted that it will finally play an arena tour in the UK in venues where many of the world’s great rock acts have gone before. We’re thrilled to have such great talent in the cast for the new show – they are all true ambassadors of UK entertainment.”
The Jesus Christ Superstar tour kicks off at London's O2 Arena tomorrow (21 September), before visiting: Glasgow SECC (25 September), Newcastle Metro Radio Arena (28 September), Manchester Arena (30 September), Cardiff Motorpoint (2 October), Birmingham NIA (4 October), Belfast Odyssey (9 October), Dublin O2 (12 October), Liverpool Echo Arena (16 October), Wembley Arena (17 October) and Sheffield Motorpoint (21 October).
The last major London production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which tells of the political and interpersonal struggles of Judas Iscariot and Jesus, was at the Lyceum Theatre in 1997. The show includes hits such as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, “Gethsemane” and “Superstar”, and has proved one of the most popular of the Lloyd Webber/Rice collaborations.