Every version of the story of Jesus, even the most
"traditional" is based on interpretation. So it
shouldn't have been so surprising when in 1971 Andrew
Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice introduced their own
version, a rock-opera called Jesus Christ
Superstar. As an alternate way of approaching the
story, Superstar is totally legitimate. As a
piece of musical theater, however, its charms may get
lost of a lot of people.
The company performing the version presented on
Univeral's new DVD also performed the show onstage in London. Some of
the cast members, particularly Fred Johanson as Pontius Pilate,
make a strong impression, while others, like Jerome Pradon as
Judas, throw a little too much swagger into their
roles. Jesus himself, as played by the pouty Glenn Carter,
comes off as more Fabio than faith-based. The entire film has
an air of gay camp, sort of a Jesus-meets-Queer as
Folk, with the apostles resembling a bunch of
Chelsea boys and the temple looking like the set of
"Satan's Alley" from John Travolta's tremendously
cheesy Staying Alive. To a fan of Lloyd
Webber's style, Superstar is probably
near-flawless. To anyone else it might just grate on
The anamorphic video is crisp and the colors strong.
For such an unabashedly stage-bound production the
filming techniques are stylish and effective. The
transfer looks good.
The audio is also well-produced. The Dolby Digital 5.1
soundtrack is taken from the cast album and sounds
A making of piece covers a little bit of the history
of the production and some of the controversy from its
original run as well as the preparations for this
recent revival. While some of the cast members are not
necessarily so well informed (One refers to the story
of Jesus as "the oldest story in the world.") it is a
well done piece.
A trailer is also included.
Fans of the musical will definitely be interested in
seeing this modern retelling, minus the Seventies
outfits and hair. Those not into the style, however,
will probably thank the Lord when it's over.