BWW Interviews: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR's Ben Forster
It's been a busy year for Ben Forster. After winning the ITV1 search for a Superstar, he's been performing in arenas all round the UK - and in Australia - and then returned to more traditional musical theatre as Brad in the UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show. Now the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar is returning - and he couldn't be more excited.
So - Brad Majors and Jesus. Slightly different.
Yes, slightly different! It's a different mindset. I was in Nottingham on Saturday night then had a dress rehearsal in Glasgow in the arena the next day. It is amazing to be doing it again. When we finished the tour last year, I didn't know I'd ever get to do it again - even just the role, never mind with the cast, and arenas, in my career, in my lifetime. It's so unique to have the opportunity to do that. It feels like a dream come true.
It's a year since the UK tour, but we went to Australia and did a tour earlier this year. That kept my head in that space. That was massive, we did a lot of shows to a lot of people. That kept me in a role.
What's it been like returning to the role?
I think it changes. It evolves, you grow. When we went to Australia we did a few days' rehearsal, and obviously watching back, I watched the DVD, and worked with Laurence [Laurence Connor, the director] some more, and we had some new people in Australia, so there were some alterations. Over time, you look back, and there was nothing I wanted to change, necessarily, but I wanted to settle in - it was such a whirlwind last time, I went from doing the TV show into rehearsals and then opening at the O2. I did put my heart and soul into it, but looking back, being calm and being in a routine and a good headspace will allow me to take a step away and really think about what I'm doing. I think it's grown in a better way.
It sounds like there's more space for you to reflect.
I think there is. Because it's not a huge tour, it'll be over quickly, it does just feel calmer. I think that makes for a better show actually.
You mentioned watching the DVD back - not many actors like to see themselves performing live like that!
I watched it with Andrew Lloyd Webber! In a private cinema screening! It was the most embarrassing thing ever! It was really scary. There were loads of things I realised I was feeling that wasn't displayed properly, and things that weren't on the big screen, so it helped me choose how to react to things.
How difficult is it performing like that? You've got to act big because you're in an arena, but you've got to act small because you're on the big screens and being filmed.
It's weirder to direct, I think, probably harder for Laurence to direct. You're giving arena body language but a TV face. It is hard. I've been in theatre since I was 18 - I know the level to sit at there and what people can read and can't read. This was a unique thing. You want to be present as a presence on stage for the naked eye, but you can't do that with your face!
So you're playing Jesus this week, and then - back into Rocky Horror?
Yes! Final show for Jesus Christ Superstar in Liverpool on Tuesday, then back into Rocky Horror in Bournemouth on Wednesday.
You must be exhausted.
I think I probably will be! I finish Rocky Horror when the tour finishes in about three weeks, and then I've got some time off - I'm so excited. I'm going to have a nice holiday.
Enjoy your break, Ben - and we'll see you back on stage soon!
Jesus Christ Superstar is playing arenas around the UK this week; The Rocky Horror Show is still on tour.