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Spotlight On JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 2012: Melanie C. As Mary Magdalene


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 sole lead female voice, Mary Magdalene, as portrayed in this fresh, ultra hi-tech, extravagantly sensorial production by Spice Girl, solo recording artist and West End notable Melanie C.

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), Tim Minchin (available here) and Melanie C., this weekend will mark the grand finale of the series in a super-special SUPERSTAR Flash Special - so don't miss it! 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.

No Lover's Fool

There's a lot more to the story of Sporty Spice than many would have been led to believe there would be when she burst upon the scene nearly twenty years ago as the neon sports bra and funky color tracksuit-donning athletically-themed member of the iconic bubblegum girl group so ubiquitous in the 1990s - since, namely, a 2010 Olivier Award nomination for her acclaimed turn in the long-running West End smash BLOOD BROTHERS, to cite one of many such accomplishments. Yet, the promise was always somewhere there within the pop confection packaging, and, in the years since her top of the pops heyday, Melanie C. has enjoyed a resoundingly successful solo career throughout Europe, with five hit albums released since her debut, NORTHERN STAR, in 1999, following the group's disbanding. Just this summer, as a matter of fact, Melanie C. joined the other "Wannabe" hitmakers in a spirited mega-medley at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, and, in the process, created one of the most memorable moments of a tournament showcase of many - which was no small feat! So, while Ms. C. nee Chisholm may be best known to US audiences for her Spice Girls work, she has carved out quite an impressive career for herself as a solo artist and stage performer, as well, which is harder still these days in the down and dirty times facing the recording industry and the scare marquee names available in musical theatre on either side of the pond. So, perhaps, it is that scrappy, lovably irascible style that she made a name for herself with as Sporty Spice, now married with her new, more mature, maternal and serene aura that makes her a prime candidate in Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's eyes (and ears) to take on one of the most controversial, yet beloved, figures in all his musicals and in all of the New Testament - the former prostitute with the heart of gold, Mary Magdalene - in this flashy new arena production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR for 2012.

It very well may be that it is that confident, yet open personality of hers, coupled with her seemingly effortless earnestness on and off the stage and stalwart emotional commitment to the material she is performing that makes Melanie C. a Mary Magdelene worth fighting for - and she can certainly handle herself in a fight, too, no doubt, given her former moniker. Having proven her acting abilities in her turn as the troubled, yet hopeful matriarch of Willy Russell's tragic BLOOD BROTHERS and receiving unanimous praise for her portrayal therein, Mary Magdelene in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR offers her not only three superb song selections which rank among the most revered ballads in all of Lloyd Webber's oeuvre - including the international 1970s smash single "I Don't Know How To Love Him", recorded many times over before and since - but also ample opportunity to dramatically interact with the serene Jesus and moody Judas of this production's Ben Forster and Tim Minchin, respectively. The role of Mary Magdalene itself relies heavily on the personality of the performer to exact its power and we can rest assured on that count that Mel C. will deliver.

Indeed, Melanie C. can certainly show off her musical theatre mettle is where her talented mouth is when she makes her cinematic musical theatre debut on Monday and moves from behind the judges panel on the SUPERSTAR ITV reality show and onto the Arena Stage in front of an US movie-going audience for JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: THE UK ROCK SPECTACULAR.

Soothe You, Calm You & Anoint You

So, let's take a look back at some of the highlights from Melanie C.'s time atop the charts and in the spotlight since her smashing debut as Sporty Spice in the mid-1990s. She's certainly come a long, long way from Lancashire!

First up, here is the single that started the world's love affair with the most successful girl group of all time, the Spice Girls - "Wannabe". The earworm of earworms!

Now, see the girls reunite all these years later for the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games. Still fierce!

Next, enjoy Melanie C.'s first smash single as a solo artist, the 2000 mega-hit "I Turn To You", as reflected in the remix music video version below.

Sample Mel's more modern sound with this syncopated and addictive cut from THE SEA, "Think About It". True - if this is a mistake, let's make it!

Experience the epic duet of LES MISERABLES 25th Anniversary's Jean Valjean, Alfie Boe, teaming up with Mel C. for a stirring recreation of "Come What May" from Baz Luhrmann's MOULIN ROUGE.

Witness a sample of the performance that set all of the West End buzzing with this performance clip of Melanie C. on the 2010 Oliver Awards singing the show's devastating tearjerker "Easy Terms". What a way to pack an emotional wallop!

The piece de resistance of today's clip collection, here is Melanie C. taking the stage of ITV's SUPERSTAR reality show to deliver an impassioned "I Don't Know How To Love Him" live.

Following that, enjoy a preview of Melanie C.'s newest album, a musical theatre tribute featuring songs from many beloved musicals, STAGES, with this special duet performance clip of Sporty Spice and Baby Spice reuniting at last to sing the CHESS anthem "I Know Him So Well". It was well-worth the wait, apparently! Wasn't it good? Oh, so good!

Of special interest, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Minchin, Ben Forster and Melanie C. discuss the reality series, the new production and then the trio performs "Everything's Alright" on THE Jonathan Ross SHOW.

Finally, here is the official trailer for Fathom's presentation of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 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, are you prepared for Melanie C. to wow you in her grand transformation from SUPERSTAR reality competition judge to star of the big arena show in her own, all too well-earned, right? Will she maybe manage to bring "I Don't Know How To Love Him" back to the charts once again given her past pop successes? Will her star presence and vocal power stack up appreciably with her heretofore relatively unseen acting abilities? All of these high hopes and more shall certainly be fulfilled come SUPERSTAR when it hits theaters next week we can pray.

Stay tuned! The final installment in the Spotlight On JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 2012 series is up next!

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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)