Published Wednesday, 10 October 2012
While no amount of modern influence takes away from the power of the opening bars of the title song, it certainly colours the show - with dozens of rioters and looters featuring in scenes reminiscent of the recent violence on the streets of London.
Throughout it all, Ben Forster leads the way as a troubled Jesus Christ. The ITV Superstar winner is effortless as he battles between doing what he must and what he wants. He sings with conviction and is committed to proving the public made the right choice.
This is never more evident than in the quintessential song Gethsemane. Forster takes centre stage and belts out one of the hardest musical songs ever written, looking like a seasoned professional.
Never far from his side is Mary. Mel C brings a sense of calm and order to proceedings with her soothing portrayal of Mary Magdalene. It's a role which has been met with controversy in the past as it alludes to Jesus having a relationship with Mary. But, you would have to be pretty miserable to find controversy from a partnership that brings us such great music.
However, there is one star that shines a little brighter than the rest. Tim Minchin portrays Judas with such raw emotion that you cannot take your eyes off him. Whether he is centre stage or lurking in the shadows, he is simply mesmerizing.
Judas is filled with inner turmoil and Minchin translates every bit of it to a captive audience.
Watching the demise of Judas is one of the most harrowing things I have witnessed in musical theatre. But things get brighter when he returns to sing the title song. A conflict of emotions emerges, with Minchin's interpretation of the song bringing huge grins to the audience - but only a glance away is a man covered in blood mid-crucifixion.
The rest of the cast provide a firm foundation for the others to stand on.
Chris Moyles is a treat as King Herod, bringing the role bang up to date with the use of tweets in a Jeremy Kyle style interrogation. He even made it relevant to Belfast, joking that Stephen Nolan was being interviewed the following night.
Tuesday night's performance was a special welcome home for local Newtownards boy Jeff Anderson, who is now Jesus' understudy and a member of the ensemble cast, after impressing Lloyd Webber on the ITV Superstar show.
All in all, this is a clever and classy remake which brings the musical completely up to date and presents it in a way which will let it transcend many more generations to come.