Twenty years ago, there was an amazing Australian stage production (nay, Arena Spectacular!) of Jesus Christ Superstar that starred John Farnham, Kate Cerberano, Jon Stevens (of Noiseworks), John Waters and even Angry Anderson. Twenty years ago, I was in Year 8 at High School, and my introduction to the world of musicals had only just begun. I recall massive publicity about this production, even TV HITS (my teenage magazine of choice, which educated me on what was hot and what was not) had a pullout poster. Which did grace my bedroom wall for far longer than appropriate.
Twenty years ago, I asked my Aunt to copy her newly purchased Australian Cast recording of this production onto cassette for me (a common practice back then), later posting the photocopied lyrics booklet to me) and I listened to it religiously (no pun intended). I fell in love it the lyrics, the catchy composition and I adored the vocal idiosyncracies of the performers. To this day I can still sing all the lyrics verbatim.
The album hasn’t lost much over the years. Ok, there’s some twee musical stylings that scream 1990s, but I still enjoy the passionate delivery of the lyrics. John Water’s Pilate, Angry Anderson’s Herod and John Steven’s Judas portrayals were delicious. Kate Cerberano and John Farnham, I could take or leave (as I do now, with the latter), but if it was possible to fall in love with the incredulity and snarling that Mssrs Stevens and Waters delivered in their singing, I was gone.
I’m not sure if it was the start of my maturity as a song listener, but musicals were a staple in my Walkman as a teenager. Even now, I’ll hear a snippet of one (from publicity from an upcoming production) and it transports me back there and I’m walking to school, blissfully lost in the music. There’s a current tour advertised now – and if I ever had one regret, it was that I never went to that production twenty years ago.
Twenty years later, perhaps I can convince someone to buy me a ticket…