It’s the Role Tim Minchin Was Born to Play

Looks like atheist comedian/singer Tim Minchin will be playing Judas in an upcoming production of the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”:

He will join the pop singer Nicole Scherzinger, playing Mary Magdalene, in an arena tour of the musical by Lord Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice which will open at London’s O2 arena this summer.

The character of Jesus will be cast via a television talent competition next month, where contestants will compete for the lead role in the musical telling the story of Christ’s final week.

The man’s on a roll — he was also cast to play a “coked-up rock star” next season in Californication.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Flockofchickens

    Judas is the lead role in JCS.

    • Stan Ferguson

      The main character is Jesus; however, as seen through the eyes of Judas.  So they become co-leads.  Much in the same vein as Che in Evita. 

      It’s a debatable point; but in cast listings, you’ll almost always find the actor playing Jesus with top billing.

      That said, Judas is the character that gains audience empathy and is easily the plum role.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Can you imagine those eyes playing Jesus?

      • Thomas Farrell

        The guy playing Jesus gets top billing, but probably only to prevent audience outrage along the lines of “how dare you give Jesus second billing”… the character of Judas really has a bigger role and is a more demanding part in that show. 

        • Stan Ferguson

          While it still remains debatable, I have to lean more toward Jesus as the main role.  While Judas has more (and better) arias, the focal point of the story is Jesus (the score ends with his death and not Judas’). 

        • Demonhype

           I totally agree.  I don’t believe it is debatable at all that Jesus is the lead role, considering his comparatively miniscule part.   It’s not about Jesus and the focal point is not Jesus if you look at it honestly–the focal point is about Judas’s struggle over how he seems to think Jesus is losing his grip and losing control of the situation, and his struggle over what to do about it since this is such an important person to him.  And Jesus’ death being the end of the score changes nothing–consider that Jesus and Christianity are so heavily ingrained in our society and how many people they writers had to appeal to were and are Christian and will not EVER accept a story about Jesus that ignores something like the crucifixion–or dares to give Judas top billing, even if the role deserves it.

          Also, consider that as Jesus carries the cross it is Judas singing from beyond the grave–STILL QUESTIONING JESUS!!!  After which, Jesus dies with absolutely no resurrection scene and no indication of a resurrection outside of what believers will insert there in a pious fervor.  There was Jesus and all his “I’m totally God, you know” and there’s Judas with his “I doubt that, and why’d you have to ruin a good thing with those kind of absurd claims?”–and in the end, Jesus dies and that’s it.

          • Demonhype

             This is what I get for posting on one hour of sleep prior to a seven-hour shift.

            I meant to say “I don’t think it is debatable at all that Judas is the lead role, considering Jesus’ comparatively miniscule part.”

    • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

       I think Jesus is still the main protagonist in that his goals drive the plot, but Judas provides the central POV in the play ( he does get the first and the last …song after all, the latter of which is easily the best of the whole production). It’s customary for those two elements of a narrative to be the same, but they don’t have to be.

  • Karen

    I adore Tim Minchin.  Wish I could see him in London.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    This is something of a step down for him.  His compositions are much better than anything in JCS.

    • Thomas Farrell

       JCS is actually a pretty good show, written when its composers were young and creative and doing great work, but you’re right that it’s odd that he’s doing this… it’s almost as if Andrew Lloyd Webber were to take a role in a Stephen Sondheim show. If Tim wants to act, well, good for him that he’s getting good roles, but my reaction was “wait, what? But… you’re an award winning composer now!”

      He really is the modern renaissance man though. Actor/singer/comedian/composer/rockstar.

      • Stan Ferguson

        I’m a fan as well and don’t find the show inherently religious–in fact Tim Rice was quoted as saying, “It happens that we don’t see Christ as God but simply the right man at the right time at the right place.”  Some modern stagings of it have thrown in a resurrection for the sake of pandering and I find that annoying.

        Personally, I think the timbre of Tim’s voice is better suited for Pilate.  I prefer a soul singer in the role of Judas and will always prefer Carl Anderson over Murray Head.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

    Great character for Tim to get but still think Thomas was the one he was “Born to play”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    omg Tim Minchin’s gunna be on Californication?! O_O
    *faints*

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt E

    While they are at it, they should have him rewrite the music. His stuff is better than anything Andrew Lloyd Webber has ever written. 

    • Gus Snarp

      I’m willing to bet that Tim would disagree with you. Why do you think he took the part? And have you listened to JCS? It’s completely different from the rest of their stuff, and from anything else anyone had done on the London stage at the time. It’s pretty damn brilliant.

  • PP

    Well he’ll certainly get his thirty pieces of silver that role.

  • PP

    Well he’ll certainly get his thirty pieces of silver for that role.

    • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

       Heh, …up to 60 now.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

    I dunno. These are to things that I really like, but I am uncertain as to whether or not they go well together.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/ferulebezelssite/ Ferule Bezel

    It always bothers me when people who do great creative work start just performing the creations of others.  Imagine if George Carlin went for and got the role of Archie Bunker (I think he could have done it very well) How much of his material would never have been written. 

    I’d rather see him writing songs than doing a crusty Acid Rock passion play.

    • Gus Snarp

      And yet how many roles has Carlin taken performing other people’s creations? It’s not like he’s signing his life away. Lots of talented people, including Carlin, have taken on roles in other people’s shows at various times. In fact, I’d say it’s something of a tradition with JCS.

      I guess I just don’t see the problem.

  • Gus Snarp

    I would pay so much money to see this. Hope it comes to the States, because my “so much money” is still less than airfare to the UK.

  • Greg

    Always quite liked JCS as a musical. Some good, memorable songs, and unusually for an adaptation I think it improves on the original text. Judas is far more believable, and Jesus comes across as a far stronger character.

    Tim seems to be getting around a lot! Recurring guest star in Californication, this, Matilda opening on Broadway, his own gigs… Is a wonder he finds the time to do it all!


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