Canberra Centre Masthead

Jesus Christ Superstar: The Arena Spectacular

Anna Riddel

In less than one week, the hit musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, will arrive in Canberra. The classic Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical will be reinvented at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as an arena spectacular.

The rock musical debuted in 1970 and will show with a full orchestra for what will be a traditional revival. With hits such as I Don’t Know How To Love Him and Superstar, this musical will be nostalgic for many.

As the name suggests, the story centres around a portrayal of Jesus Christ. In particular, it recounts the last seven days of his life, as seen through the eyes of Judas. A few decades ago the musical was a household name.

Let’s just revisit that, when Jesus Christ Superstar first hit the stages, the concept was a ground breaking. An idea that many may love, Jesus is referred to as a “Superstar” which encapsulates the hysteria that surrounded him at the time he was alive, not to mention his status as a global icon in the thousands of years since (irrespective of personal beliefs).

Luke Kennedy will play

Luke Kennedy will play Jesus in the arena spectacular, Jesus Christ Superstar.

The revival at the AIS remains traditional in era, however, it is also a recreation of the 1992 arena spectacular staged at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. This former version starred none other than John Farnham as Jesus, Angry Anderson as Judas and Kate Cebrano as Mary. (I did my research on this one over 20 years ago, I was actually there! It truly was spectacular).There is something that really works by staging Jesus Christ Superstar in an arena.

Like going to a rock concert, it adds the element of fandom.

Musical director Ian McLean says it also adds appeal to the production.

“The show is for everyone, from mid-teens to older generations, it is a classic story,” he says.

Ian also tells of the great opportunity for the Canberra musical theatre scene “to be working with luminaries” like Luke Kennedy.

It is exciting for the cast and crew and is a great step forward for musical theatre in Canberra,” says Ian.

“We are really lucky to have the talent of Luke Kennedy (The Voice Australia 2013 runner up) as Jesus, mixing with our own professional orchestra made up of the Canberra Symphony, the Royal Military College Band and other freelance professionals.”

So whether you listened to this classic musical in the days of yesteryear (crouched over your record player like I did), or you are discovering it for the first time, get along to see Jesus Christ Superstar: The Arena Spectacular.

The essentials

What: Jesus Christ Superstar: The Arena Spectacular
When: 7.30pm 2 to 5 June; 1.30pm & 7.30pm 6 June; and 5pm 7 June
Where: AIS Arena, Bruce


Anna Riddel

Anna Riddel is a singer, director, keynote speaker and a passionate teacher. In 2012, her song Breathe, received a runner up position in the USA International Song Of The Year Songwriting Contest. Anna is currently a Voice tutor at NIDA, as well as a tutor in Music Pedagogy at UNSW. Her company Speak Don’t Talk consults on voice and communication across a range of industries. Anna is an avid Brumbies fan and a self professed coffee snob. Follow her on twitter @annariddel More about the Author