Spotlight On JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 2012: Tim Minchin As Judas Iscariot
Today we are continuing BroadwayWorld's extensive coverage of the forthcoming Fathom cinema presentation of the epic brand new arena production Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR by highlighting the show's tortured anti-hero, Judas Iscariot, as portrayed in this fresh, ultra hi-tech, extravagantly sensorial production by superstar stand-up comedian, song stylist and MATILDA: THE MUSICAL composer/lyricist Tim Minchin.
In the days leading up to the world cinema premiere of the futuristic new production of the iconic rock opera and to continue the series begun with Ben Forster (available here) and Tim Minchin, tomorrow we will be highlighting their co-star, Spice Girl and West End personality Melanie C. (Mary Magdalene), all culminating in a super-special SUPERSTAR Flash Special this weekend. Additionally, check out the prelude to this series with my look at the recent abundance of religious-themed musicals on Broadway and beyond, with an emphasis on SUPERSTAR, as well as SCANDALOUS, GODSPELL, THE BOOK OF MORMON, CARRIE, SISTER ACT and more - from Sunday, no less; appropriately so - here.
More information on JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: THE UK ROCK SPECTACULAR on October 29 and November 1 is available here.
Prove To Me That You're No Fool
Hot button-pushing, in-your-face confrontational and edgy UK standup comedian/songwriter Tim Minchin may be best known to theatre fans around the world for his recent pristine score for the smash hit West End musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's hallowed children's classic MATILDA - coming to Broadway later this year - but he is undoubtedly most recognizable to UK and Australian audiences for his many memorable monologues, songs and routines that have made him one of the most accomplished and successful comedians in Europe, having released countless CDs, DVDs and TV specials. Now, with Andrew Lloyd Webber himself self-selecting Minchin to portray the pivotal, prominent, potentially quite vocally problematic role of Judas in this brand new SUPERSTAR for 2012, in his choice he clearly displayed his desire for an altogether revolutionary take on the character - and, seemingly, in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: THE UK ROCK SPECTACULAR, with Minchin he has gotten it; and then some. While the original 1970 concept album of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR was met with much criticism and opprobrium sourced from conservative religious circles at the time - namely: the Catholic Church - the subsequent stage productions somehow fared even worse and were met with protests and picketing. In my recent InDepth InterView with original Broadway Judas Ben Vereen he described the chaotic scene of arriving at the theater every night: "I can remember nuns standing outside the stage door yelling at me in Latin and hitting me with rosary beads as I would go into the theater every night - and I'm like, 'Hey, I'm just trying be an actor,' you know?!" he related with a laugh. Since tragedy and comedy are so intrinsically tied, it seems apt that for this virtually resurrected SUPERSTAR that Webber would want someone with the fiery, furious drive of an all-out performer like Minchin. Yes, Judas Iscariot is a treacherously tricky part, but someone with the cool, collected conviviality and general no-sweat ease with taking on the task of winning over an audience as the anti-hero such as a comedian must possess will add invaluably to the proceedings, no doubt.
In today's clip collection there are more than enough musical numbers and monologues to get not only a glimpse of the persuasive power of this tremendously gifted performer, but also gain a look at his sheer, raw talent in telling a story in a captivating, unique, compelling way through song. After all, isn't that what it's all really about in playing a piece like this - particularly in this arena setting?
While Minchin may still have to prove his musical theatre mettle onstage as an actor, these at turns riotously funny, surprisingly touching, deeply affective, probingly provocative and thoroughly thought-provoking performances may be all the proof we need to realize that Minchin is a man made for musicals - and certainly more than merely a fool; whether in a tragedy, a comedy… or a rock opera.
A Worldly Man & Wise
So, now, let's take a look at some of the most memorable moments from Tim Minchin's many stand-up specials and appearances in his rise to fame in the UK and Australia over the course of the new millennium thus far as we look ahead to his debut as Judas Iscariot in the new SUPERSTAR 2012 on Monday.
First, given the abundance of YouTube content in this column - much of it sourced from Minchin's personal channel - it would be a crime not to kick off the Minchin mania with the dramatic "The YouTube Lament". Oh, all that softly spoken sophistry!
Experience the evocatively ethereal and eerie "Prejudice" from Minchin's Australian ARE YOU READY? DVD, a number that he also recently performed in his second appearance on CONAN. Who knew word math could be this compellingly musically rendered?
Continuing on the moody theme, enjoy the 13-minute extended version of Minchin's final song from ARE YOU READY?, the epic "Dark Side". Awesome, indeed!
Next, take in this sensational 2005 charity performance of a self-confessed "love song" from around the time Minchin blew up in a big way - the hilarious and catchy "Inflatable You".
Since no introduction could do this raucous song more justice than Minchin's own - here is "Ten Foot C*ck And A Few Hundred Virgins".
With the first of three religious-themed performances, check out Minchin's caustic "I Love Jesus" monologue and the ensuing sardonic sing-along song.
After that, hear some of Minchin's characteristic insights into the very same book upon which JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is based - that is, the one and only "Good Book", The Bible. Amen!
Concluding the trinity, take a peek at this absolutely filthy but all-too-poignant Minchin encore, "The Pope Song". Holy… well, you know the rest!
See if this stupendous song with a fascinating back-story, though seemingly written on a whim for THE Jonathan Ross SHOW, doesn't wow you as it did me - "5 Poofs And 2 Pianos". Ace!
Of special interest, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Minchin, Melanie C. and Ben Forster discuss the SUPERSTAR reality series, the new arena production and then the trio performs "Everything's Alright" on - where else? - THE Jonathan Ross SHOW.
Finally, here is the official trailer for Fathom's presentation of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: THE UK ROCK SPECTACULAR in movie theaters nationwide next week.
Also, as a special bonus, here is an extended look at the new tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: THE UK ROCK SPECTACULAR.
So, does the wide swath of emotion covered in these self-penned tunes offer enough evidence to support a belief that Minchin can carry off Judas Iscariot in SUPERSTAR 2012? Furthermore, can he cross over to an international audience through his performance alone? Most of all, will he be the Judas for the ages that we are all hoping he will ultimately be? Judging from these clips, Minchin is clearly overflowing with talent, creativity, artistry and passion for performance, so anything is possible. Let's hope the fool proves himself a king!
Stay tuned! Tomorrow in the Spotlight On JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR series: Melanie C.!
From This Author Pat Cerasaro