Twenty one years ago Jesus Christ Superstar toured Australian arenas starring John Farnham as "Jesus" and Jon Stevens as "Judas". Nearly a million people saw the production and it ran for nearly three months. It took $40m at the box office.
This is one of my favourite musicals because it is a rock classic that tells the story of the last week of Jesus' life. It is so close to my heart because I played the role of Mary Magdeline in a production in Queensland, so it holds wonderful memories for me.
This has had rave reviews In the UK and it broke previous audience records with 74,000 fans seeing the show on opening weekend. A creative team was assembled to bring this rock musical into the 21st century. It is quite a transformation.
The line up this time round is Tim Minchin as 'Judas', former Spice Girl Melanie C as 'Mary Magdalene' and newcomer Ben Forster in the role of 'Jesus'. Ben Forster won ITV's Superstar competition in 2012 and as a result Forster scored the lead role of 'Jesus' in the rock opera last year. Jon Stevens who blew audiences away in 1992 in his role as 'Judas', is returning but will be in the principal role of 'Pontius Pilate'. Andrew O'Keefe will play the role of 'King Herod'.
This production will be like no other we have ever seen. At the opening night in the UK, friends of mine told me there were long standing ovations. Andrew Lloyd Webber joined the cast on stage and was very emotional saying he waited a long time for a production of this kind. Now that's saying something.
Jesus Christ Superstar has been a favourite for decades. The earliest Australian version was staged from May 1972 to February 1974. It starred Jon English as Judas, Trevor White as Jesus, Marcia Hines as Mary Magdeline (taking over from Michele Fawdon in 1973) and Stevie Wright as Simon Zealotes. Doug Parkinson joined Trevor White and Marcia Hines performing the role of Judas in a club version of the show that toured the country.
For those old enough to remember this production, here's a trip down memory lane. The production has come such a long way and if you haven't seen it yet, this is a definite for the 'bucket list'.
Marcia Hines and Doug Parkinson. Image courtesy Doug Parkinson