Spotlight On JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 2012: Ben Forster As Jesus Christ
Today we are continuing BroadwayWorld's extensive coverage of the forthcoming Fathom cinema presentation of the epic brand new arena production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR by highlighting the show's central, eponymous figure, Jesus Christ, as portrayed in this freshly revitalized, ultra hi-tech, extravagantly sensorial production by SUPERSTAR UK TV reality show winner Ben Forster.
In these last days leading up to the world cinema premiere of the futuristic new production of the iconic rock opera, we will also be highlighting Forster's co-stars, MATILDA: THE MUSICAL composer/lyricist and renown UK comedian Tim Minchin (Judas Iscariot) as well as Spice Girl and West End star Melanie C. (Mary Magdalene), 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 in Fathom-equipped movie theaters nationwide is available here.
The Pick Of The Crop
From AMERICAN IDOL to THE X FACTOR to THE VOICE in the USA, to UK TV's own similar series of reality singing competitions and vocally attuned programming, the search for the next music megastar via reality TV has become a tried and true trope of the entertainment industry in the new millennium - and the method has proven itself as a more than merely minimally effective way of not only seeking out talent, but gauging the interest of the intended audience, as well. Whether or not the recording industry will ever bounce back to where it once was has yet to be determined, but the resurgence of variety programming such as in the aforementioned examples - in addition to what can be seen in the musical theatre content of SMASH, GLEE and other entities - acts as surefire evidence of the power and sway performing arts at their best still hold over an attentive audience, even now, in the age of JERSEY SHORE and Kardashians and the like. Of course, talent always finds a way, and, when Andrew Lloyd Webber set out to find the next Jesus Christ for his seminal, ground-breaking masterpiece JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, he certainly chose the correct method of doing so given the resultant star. Just as the concept album experiment that was JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR originally achieved in the 1970s - starting as a standalone pop single in 1969, then expanded to a full-length 2 LP set and released in the UK and stateside the following year to much acclaim and success - Lloyd Webber has yet again reinvented the wheel of not only how, when, where and why a particular production is cast, but handed over the who quotient of that equation to the audience themselves to choose.
What resulted from all of that is not only the endlessly entertaining ITV series SUPERSTAR - which also featured Melanie C. as a judge, alongside Lloyd Webber himself - but also the spotlight being shone in an international arena upon relative newcomer Ben Forster as the new king of kings. With, literally, mighty shoes to fill, those of us fortunate to have caught SUPERSTAR on ITV are well aware of the awe-inspiring range of talent exhibited by this commanding, charismatic new star - showing his considerable stuff by taking on everything from Queen to Foreigner to R.E.M. to Gotye to Lloyd Webber and beyond while on the reality series - Forster is unquestionably poised to deliver a heavenly performance in next week's SUPERSTAR cinema presentation.
The future looks blindly bright for this emotional, thoughtful, attention-grabbing new talent as a recording artist, concert and stage personality.
He's the pick of the crop.
Are You Who They Say You Are?
So, let's take a look back at Ben Forster's best moments on the SUPERSTAR reality series, as well as revisit a few of his first professional credits - and, of course, cast a firm gaze upon next week's SUPERSTAR cinema premiere.
Believe it or not, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is not Ben Forster's first arena spectacle - he previously played a significant role in the hit European THRILLER: LIVE! World Tour. So, first up, sample his take on pop icon Michael Jackson's deceptively tricky and titanically emotional "Man In the Mirror".
Next, hear Ben's soulful take on the international Leona Lewis smash hit "Bleeding Love" in the alluring acoustic clip below.
Now, enjoy Forster's earworm 2008 single, "Fall Apart", another collaboration with the amusingly named Schizofreniks.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the best of the best from Ben's long stint on the SUPERSTAR casting show.
First up, here is the performance many cite as his breakthrough: a spine-tingling "Cold As Ice" (Foreigner). Chilling!
Enjoy Ben's openhearted take on R.E.M.'s essential mid-90s rock smash "Everybody Hurts".
Hear what Ben sounds like tackling a modern top pop hit with his "Somebody That I Used To Know" (Gotye).
Don't miss Ben's Queen cover in the form of this spirited "Who Wants To Live Forever".
Last, here is "Gethsemane", the central Jesus moment in the rock opera, taken from the final SUPERSTAR ITV show as sung by the trio of finalists; Roger Wright, Rory Taylor and Ben. And, after that, I only have to say: wow!
Also of special interest, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Minchin, Melanie C. and Ben discuss the reality series, the new production and then the trio performs "Everything's Alright" on THE Jonathan Ross SHOW from a few weeks ago.
Finally, here is the official trailer for Fathom's presentation of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: THE UK ROCK SPECTACULAR next week.
Also, as a special bonus, here is an extended look at the new arena tour.
So, which one of these Ben Forster performances makes your spirits rise the most? Was "Cold As Ice" as cool as it gets for you or are you now convinced that you never, ever want to be "Somebody That I Used To Know" to Ben? Furthermore, what about his impassioned "Gethsemane" from the finale of the SUPERSTAR ITV show? Now, we just have to imagine it with full costumes, sets, props and production - well, at least until Monday, that is.
Stay tuned! Tomorrow in the Spotlight On JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 2012 series: Judas Iscariot himself, Tim Minchin.