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Super stars save Jesus the musical

What if we didn't have Twitter? What if the 2011 riots in England hadn't taken place?

And what if thousands of people had decided against treating the streets of London, Dublin, New York, etc, as a sort of festival camping ground for their 'tent town' protests? That's right -- Jesus Christ Superstar would be the same as it used to be. It wouldn't have the "modern edge" that director Laurence Connor and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber aimed for when meeting to discuss a new arena tour of the latter's inexplicably popular rock opera.

But these things happen. And if the craziest thing about Jesus Christ Twitterstar (new show, new name I reckon ... ) isn't the contemporary re-imagining of a classic musical based on the final days of Christ, it's the sight of a slick-haired Chris Moyles as King Herod. Actually, rewriting Herod as a game show host, asking his public to vote on whether the man with the dodgy wig (ITV's Superstar winner Ben Forster plays Jesus) is 'Lord or Fraud', is an inspired move. Much more so than the sight of dancing angels, or acrobatic hoodlums going head-to-head with riot police (didn't Take That do something similar at the Brits, like, a year ago?).


On the face of things, Jesus Christ Stars In Their Eyes 2012 (bear with me ... ) really shouldn't work. It's too loud, too over-the-top -- too Glee, even. It's the likeable cast, however, that manages to prevent this most bizarre of arena spectacles from completely embarrassing itself. Sure, Forster is a weak Jesus -- all high notes and worried glances. But this isn't just about the Big Fella. It's also about the other Mary in Jesus's life (Melanie C as a thoroughly convincing Goth who doesn't know how to love her man) and, more importantly, the downfall of Judas Iscariot (Tim Minchin).

Alex Hanson as Pontius Pilate plays the reluctant villain with added gusto, but it's the always reliable Minchin -- a master of live comedy and music -- who puts his extraordinary set of pipes to wonderful use. Oh, and the -- spoiler alert! -- Crucifixion? Surprisingly powerful stuff. Almost as eerie as when Judas puts an end to his guilt by -- another spoiler! -- hanging himself from a tree. Good thing there are plenty of laughs in there. Such as Chris Moyles. In a musical about Jesus. Wearing a bright red suit. Bonkers, lads -- completely bonkers.