I know the next blog was meant to be about challenging behavior but I decided that it is time for a bit light heartedness. So lets talk about the musical that is about the last few days and the eventual death of Jesus. I have been of Jesus Christ Superstar since I was about 17/18. Before the arena tour came out I would watch 2000’s version and 1973’s version on Youtube and would watch it side by side at different times obviously. 1973’s rock band element wouldn’t mix with 2000 scream singing. So to start off with this blog will go into spoilers so if you haven’t watched Jesus Christ Superstar or know the end of the Easter story then warning spoilers are coming. This review will include 1973, 2000 and the arena tour as I don’t fancy listen to ABC version as its full of mediocre singers except the guy that plays Judas. Also I have already reviewed the awesomeness that is the regents park version link below.
So the background, Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It originally was an album which came out in 1970 and it was put on Broadway in 1971. 1973 film is filmed in a dessert like place and has modern elements with guns and 70’s themes throughout. The 2000 film looks like it is done on a set piece and has more of the modern elements and 2012 is on an arena tour stage the stage being a set of stairs in Birmingham arena but has some great visuals which I will go in to later. A warning I am not a massive fan off 2000 but I watched it again to get a balanced look. I am most definitely am not a reviewer will be like hate it because I hate it. I am going to go through the songs as it is a sung through musical (missing out “now we are decided” as it is only in one version) and talk about the different versions interpretation to the songs and the acting I will mark which I think which adaption did better, as it is sung through I will be stopping at the end of act one and then act two will be in another blog. Then I will add up the marks at the end of this blog for act one and then do an overall marks part two blog.
1973 had everyone arrive on a mini bus to the dessert for some reason and they then start to get ready for their parts they are going to play doing their make up and unpacking the bus at the end they prepare Jesus he is then presented to everyone and the audience, I think its not too bad but I don’t think its aged well.
In the 2000 film the camera pans around the set looking at the gravity on the wall of words like “hate” and pictures of guns. Every so often it focuses on some of the disciples being arrested by Darth Vader looking things and it is over the opening credits at the end of the piece of music Jesus doesn’t appear but we get a close up from the cross, it isn’t the best but isn’t the worst.
In the 2012 it has a lot of energy and it starts of a news channels being presented on the screen at the top of the stage of riots and then the riot is then presented on the stage and I think it mirrors the London riots. Then as the last part of the chords Jesus magically appears on the stage in the middle and they all stop rioting and look at him.
Out of the three versions I believe the one that does it better is the arena tour so the arena tour gets a 10/10. 1973 gets an 7/10 and 2000 gets 4/10.
Heaven on their mind
1973 Judas played by the late Carl Anderson sang the song on top of a mountain and was singing it as an inner battle with himself as it doesn’t show that Jesus can hear him. It is sang with really well and the emotions that Carl Anderson presents while singing this song is really well done shame he is working against Ted Neeley as Jesus who has the same blank face throughout the first part of the movie.
2000 Judas played by Jerome Pradone wow just wow his singing never catches the right notes and he does sound sometimes during the song he sound out of breath. Jesus does turn up in this song near the beginning. He does act though through the song so it makes you wonder is he giving up his singing performance to make way for his acting and he is singing to Jesus and he actively ignores his warnings while standing .
2012 Judas played by Tim Minchin the song is good and he is good acting wise showing how upset he is by the fact he feels like they are all going to die and Jesus is ignoring him and Tim Minchin does have the face of a man that conveys the emotions however I wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t bring up the auto tuning they decided to do with his voice. I rather they not do that and just keep his voice normal.
Out of the three movies the best one of Heaven on their minds was 1973 with a 10/10, 2012 with an 9/10 and 2000 with a 5/10.
Whats the buzz/strange thing mystifying
In the 1973 version they sing it well and it is danced well some of the dance moves are based around 70’s dancing. Mary’s appearance in his version is a bit under whelming as she could be anyone really there is nothing that makes her stand out as much in the other version and the singing in this bit is really fast but it does have energy even though Ted Neeley looks really bored to be there. Its like Jesus they are your friends a bit of emotion maybe. For example when Judas gives Mary a tongue lashing Jesus is like blank face while singing angrily. Singing is amazing and it does have the energy, it would be better if Carl Anderson wasn’t acting for everyone in the scene.
In the 2000 version it’s really clunky and some bits don’t sense. Jesus in this version was played by Glenn Carter and he has a problem over acting. I also don’t know what they are trying to do with Judas they kept panning the camera to him and he’s climbing around and being grumpy. I also don’t like the fact Judas just pushed Mary over, he’s meant to be worried about her giving them a bad image. The acting in the scene though can’t be faulted all the actors are doing their bests. However I don’t like the facial expressions during Mary’s cooling down of the face, he looks turned on not tired.
In the 2012 version is good and has a lot of energy. However I am going to say it Ben Forster is a great singer and actor but he doesn’t have charisma or the stage presence to play Jesus, at times it’s like why are they even following him. At times I got more charisma from Judas than I ever got with Jesus. He looks tired during the cool down your face a bit and he also looks sad which is an interesting interpretation of him being done with the constant questions. Also the screen behind projects images off social media adding the modern aspects to it. Tim Minchin never breaks character throughout whats the buzz and it shows in every facial expression and every look.
Out of the three movies the one that did this song better was…. 2012 with it’s quirks and new interpretation giving it a 9/10, 1973 coming close second with 8/10 and unfortunately 2000 is third with 4/10.
In the 1973 version it was sang well and it is a lovely song. It is still a shame that Carl Anderson is acting for everyone in this scene again. It is obvious in this scene that Ted Neeley is putting his singing above his acting and I do get that they were probably hot in the dessert but come on a facial expression wouldn’t go a miss. No okay. That’s fine let’s give all the work to Carl Anderson. It is a sweet song though and the actress that plays Mary is a talented singer.
In the 2000 version again it had good singing but I feel like it is over acted like there is a lot of pushing and shoving and scream singing and I am not sure I like it. Its different to a high note its legit screaming at times and when Jesus is defending himself he falls to the ground and it’s like can you get up. Also when Mary is attempting sooth him he looks turned on again.
In the 2012 version the only words I can say are “I love Mel C’s eyes” they are so expressive Every time I watch this version I am like yay I love it. When Mary is attempting to comfort him and sooth him he looks tired and weary. He doesn’t look angry at Judas he looks bored and tired. Ben Forster does have a range of emotions that he can get on his face and he is great. Mel C as Mary is good because she brings a vulnerability to the character. again Tim Minchin in general as Judas does express so much emotions on his face even when the attention isn’t on his character.
The version that wins this song is Mel C’s eye! jokes jokes but the winner has to be 2012 with 10/10, 1973 following with 8/10 and 2000 taking up the rear with a 6/10.
This Jesus must die
In the 1973 this song was sung on the scaffolding above the city. They are talented and do well in conveying their concern for Jesus getting too powerful. Caiaphas is meant to be bass but we can get through this because of the fake Bass we get 2000 makes up for the lack of bass in 1973. The one that plays Annas in his one is hilarious as his voice is super high pitched and they tap to the beat of the bars of the scaffolding.
In the 2000 version Caiaphas is in and out of singing as a bass. He is obviously not a natural bass and one of the people at the meeting was a natural bass and ended up playing Caiaphas in the 2012 arena tour. I can’t take 2000’s seriously though because Annas looking like a budget cut Voldemort and that always makes me laugh.
In 2012 Caiaphas is a played by a bass singer and omg it is so good. When I first heard it I was so excited and he is a real bass. There is also progression from this man is causing us problems to this man must die and it add a bit of depths to the characters of the Jewish council.
The winner is 2012 with a 10/10, follow by 1973 8/10 and then bring up the rear is Voldemort and fake bass with a score 4/10.
1973 had good singing and had the visual of Jesus being welcomed with palm leaves and him being happy to a part of the group of people. For the first time we see Ted Neeley show some emotions and he is happy and the energy is great. When the line “Hey JC will you die for me!” you see a million emotions go across his face and it shows. It really does show. Also having the Jewish council above them on the structure is great and shows the oppression.
2000 didn’t do a bad job with this one. Glen Carter does have stage presence and the charisma to carry it off. Its believable that people would follow him and listen to him but however I don’t like the fact Glen Carter’s Jesus doesn’t sing with the crowd. I like it when he does it in the other versions because he is trying to tell them he is the same as them and they can sing together and for themselves but no Jesus just stands above them where the Jewish council had been standing and acts just as bad the guys oppressing them. Also gets some points for not having Judas singing in this.
2012 Hosanna is good but it has the same problem it has with whats the buzz this is the fact that its hard to imagine people following Ben Forster’s Jesus. Its like is Judas paying them to act so happy with him or to follow him. The singing in this is great and the set of using the stairs and having the Jewish council above them is great.
The version that wins is 1973 with a 10/10, followed by I can’t believe I am saying this but 2000 8/10 and following up the rear is 2012 with a 6/10.
Simon Zealotes/poor Jerusalem
1973 version cuts away from hosanna and then pans across the dessert and they are in a spot and the song starts with Simon and the crowd looking like an aerobics class which is weird but I think it is potentially just a 70s thing but the way it is done is a bit clunky and dated. The singing is great but the fact of how dated the choreography is. The poor Jerusalem is good singing but Ted Neeley forgets to act again and it’s him just singing and holding Mary’s hand. It is off putting considering the pace of Simon Zealotes.
2000 version is straight after Hosanna and its full of guns and energy. Simon in this version is so talented and he keeps up the energy and sells himself so well. At the end its like no wonder everyone wants to join him he’s amazing and screw Rome and all that jazz. Like he is very good and he the way it is acted. I love it. Me complimenting 2000’s version I know shocking but credit where credit is due. It is then spoiled a bit by Glenn Carter singing Poor Jerusalem because it is a massive case of them putting acting before singing and at the end of the day it is a musical I am not saying don’t be Ted Neeley but a bit of balance would help.
2012 version again starts straight after Hosanna and it has energy but also Simon has the same problem as Ben Forster is he has no Charisma and its hard to imagine people are believing what he is about and his motives the back screen does come in useful and projects images of Jesus being their leader. Poor Jerusalem is lovely to listen to and it is full off visuals of homeless people in the future and it is really interest to watch.
The winner of these songs are I can’t believe I am saying this is 2000 with a 9/10, followed by 2012 with a 8/10 and 1973 with a low score of 5/10.
1973 version he sings on top of a mountain and looks concerned but massively upset. He seems to be speaking his guards or speaking too himself. Either way he seems worried but not overly upset and at the end of the scene he is given his crown while the chorus sings “Pilate”.
2000 version he sings it in bed and it is so weird. How are we meant to take him seriously later if we see him crying in bed. Nothing has happened yet and he seems ready to pack it all in. This interpretation is weird and it doesn’t add anything new.
2012 version he is talking as someone gets him ready for a trail that he is conducting. He doesn’t look concerned or upset he looks like he’s just talking to someone about his dream and at the end when he is ready to go he has a smirk with the person dressing him. I find it interesting and it is good.
So the winner is 2012 with a 10/10, the second is 1973 with a 8/10 and the last one is 2000 with a 3/10.
1973 version is in a structure that looks like a market place with drugs, live stock, prostitutes and dancers. It has great visuals and it looks amazing. The difference activities going around added to the energy of the scene. When Jesus trashes the place he remembers to act and he looks angry, upset and tired, you can see he is upset and you can see how he is slowly starting to loose control of his followers and people around him. During the lepers scene they turn up slowly as only a few and then they surround him and he freaks out. In this version they changed heal yourselves to leave me alone which is bottling it a bit.
2000 version is in a part of the set and it looks part night club and part market place. This does get a bit confusing at times because why is there a TV shop in the night club next to the cages of women dancing it is very confusing. I am not a fan of Glen Carters scream singing it is really hard on the ears and at times the acting of the scene means the singing is put secondary. The lepers scene is slowed down a lot and it is so noticeable. The song is better at faster beat. This version does go back to heal yourselves which is good. The lepers themselves look like Zombies rather than ill people.
2012 is a night club and it stays constant throughout the song. The visuals, the lighting, the dancing all came together to a give an excellent performance. Ben Forster portrayal is so good, he has so many facial expressions and you see he is a man loosing control of his people and accepting the fact he is going to die soon. The lepers scenes is put back to his normal tempo and I love that. The Lepers in this scene look like ill people.
So the winner of this song is 2012 with a 9/10, followed by 1973 with a 8/10 and followed by 2000 with a 5/10.
I don’t know how to love him
In the 1973 version Mary sang it outside his tent, she is an amazing singer and she acted it really well showing her emotions and her fears of loving someone so powerful. Something that I am not a fan off and I know is probably just a bug bear but why is she belting outside his tent. It’s a bit like oi he’s not going to love you back if your singing about your love for him while he’s really tired and trying to sleep. Overall it is a good song.
In the 2000 version Mary sang it while Jesus slept with his head on her knee. She does get up though and move away from him to belt but then goes back to him to wrap him up in a blanket. The acting in the scene is very raw and very emotive you can see how worried and how heartbreaking it must be love someone so powerful. However the singing isn’t great but it is again a case of acting coming before singing.
In the 2012 version Mary sang it on her own. She is amazing. I love it Mel C has amazing eyes and she can express so much emotions from them. I love it, she is so good. She expresses her emotions, she sings well and during this song she removes her make up and her jacket to get away from the prostitute life she once had and to be a cleansed women. Not being too upset about feeling cleansed in her love for him.
The winner of this off course is 2012 with 10/10, followed by 1973 with 8/10 and bring up the rear is 2000 with a 6/10.
Damned for all times/Blood money
In the 1973 version is interest it isn’t bad but isn’t amazing either. It starts with Judas being chased down tanks in the middle of the dessert. It is interesting symbolism, showing his inner turmoil being between two minds. Then he sings to the priests and they sing well and it is acted well. During blood money you see so many emotions going through his face and it is stunning to watch.
In the 2000 version is also interest with the talk to the priests being at the priests while he sings at them at times they aren’t paying much attention to him. In a way playing hard to get being like you must come to us and spit it out. Once he gets to the end of the song he sinks to the floor dramatically and then going into blood money Annas grabs Jesus’s hair “We want information get off the floor”. He then proceeds to push him further to the floor which is confusing. Jerome Pradon still doesn’t hit the right notes and it makes the song sound terrible.
In the 2012 version is good, Tim Minchin can portray so many different emotions on his face. The priests were good to show that they are not evil they themselves want to save Jerusalem and Israel and it does show in the way that they act. You get the nice side of them, you get the sinister side of them and you get the desperate side of them that the other versions don’t do so well.
The winner is 2012 with a 10/10, followed by 1973 with a 8/10 and followed by 2000 with a low 4/10 just for the strange directing choices and Jerome Pradon singing.
So this is the end of part one, lets look at our scores so far is; 2012 with a score of 101/110, followed by 1973 with 88/110 and bringing up the rear is 2000 with 58/110. Join me next time for the second half of Jesus Christ Superstar mega review!