This musical has grown on me. When I first listened to one of its recordings I thought it was so noisy --> it's a rock musical. Then I watched the version on video, the one with Jérôme Pradon as Judas, and I started to like the songs. This new version is even better.
Laurence Connor, the director, did this very well. It seems like it happens in recent time. The scene opens with young people wearing hoodies in protest versus the police, and they hope that Jesus will lead them, which made me think I had more understanding about the situation in that era. Later, when Jesus explained that he was not going to lead them against the government, I could understand Judas's disappointment. This musical, anyway, was made to make us have more sympathy for Judas. Tim Minchin, who played Judas, did it so well. In The Last Supper, he was still torn about giving Jesus up; but Jesus challenged him to do it, so he went. We could see how much Judas loved him and thought he was doing it for Jesus's good. Now, if someone could tell me the trick in Judas's suicide scene, I will be very grateful ;-)
The big screen on the stage was used efficiently (better than in 25th anniversary of the Phantom of The Opera in the Royal Albert Hall). We see the kids use modern technology to spread words about Jesus in What's the Buzz (on the screen we can see the text messages they send) and in Herod Song (Chris Moyles who played King Herod was a famous DJ in the UK), we see King Herod as a TV Quiz Show presenter who creates a poll about Jesus.
Ben Forster as Jesus was also good. His Gethsemane was very powerful. His Jesus was bitter, resentful, and for a moment I thought he was challenging God.
If I had to say something bad about this version, I'd say there were too many people in The Last Supper, not only Jesus and the twelve. Then I would ask 3 disciples to accompany Jesus, while the rest could move away, in the end of the song. The lyrics say: "Will no-one stay awake with me? Peter? John? James?" Yet these 3 were among the crowds, in different places, too.
"Now why'd you choose such a backward time and such a strange land? If you'd come today you could have reached the whole nation..."After watching this version, I think no matter when he comes or where he comes to, people will still be denying him.
Some things in this are against my believe, but it's still a very enjoyable musical to watch. Glad it's on DVD!