Ben Forster

Ben Forster

Ben Forster landed the role of Jesus Christ in Jesus Chris Superstar in ITV’s show Superstar; a role that has brought him plenty of success in the last twelve months.

He will be returning to the role in October as Jesus Christ Superstar heads out on a UK arena tour. We caught up with him to chat about the show, the role and what lies ahead.

- You are heading back to the show Jesus Christ Superstar as it is set to kick off on a UK tour so how excited are you to be returning to this show?

I can’t even tell you, it is really hard to put into words. I went through that whole process of the TV show and put my life in the hands of ITV; the prize was just to be able to do it once.

But I have been able to be part of the show last year, and then I went to do the show in Australia, and we made a DVD. The prize turned into so much more than it ever was. So, for me, it is an absolute dream come true.

- That does lead into my next question as you enjoyed huge success with this show, so how have you found everything that has been coming your way over the last twelve months or so? It has been a real-life upheaval.

It has, yeah. It is really exciting. There comes a moment when you realise what has happened, and you strive, as a performer, to get to a point where we feel proud of our career.

I had done quite a lot of stuff before the TV show, but there is something in this job - playing Jesus Chris in Jesus Chris Superstar - it just doesn’t get bigger than this. I do have moments when I go ‘wow, it has really happened’.

The rest of the time it is just work and you are just getting on with what you are doing day by day. It is hard not being at home; I don’t get much time at home and that is difficult.

- So for anyone who is going to be heading out to see the show this time around what can they expect?

If they haven’t seen it before then the word ‘epic’ is a pretty good way to describe it, as it is just massive. I think some people worry that you might not be able to see the action and the emotions if you are in the back row of the O2, but there is a big sixty-foot screen.

It is being filmed like live cinema; so you see it pieced together like a movie with us underneath singing live. So you can follow it with the actors on stage and on the screen. I think I would have been worried about that if I was thinking about going to see the show in an arena.

It is a contemporary take on the story; it is set in today’s world. That makes it really relevant. It is the greatest story ever told, and yet it is the most relatable that it has ever been.

Rather than looking at Jesus trying to heal lepers in sandals, Jesus is at a rave and is healing heroin addicts and HIV victims; so it becomes more relevant. When you relate more to the story, I think you let yourself into and feel the story with use.

- You have mentioned that this is an arena tour rather than a theatre show, so how do you find performing in those kinds of venues?

It’s terrifying; it is so scary. It just feels so huge. Actually, you don’t really realise it until you get an applause. After my solo, I just hear this rapturous applause, and I just think ‘oh my god, I am feeling what Robbie Williams and Elton John would feel if they were playing in an arena’.

It is such a rare feeling for a human being to feel that response from so many people - I get to feel that, and I am so lucky.

- So when does the show get underway? Are rehearsals up and running? And if so how are they all going?

At the moment, I am in Rocky Horror Show - I am in Bury at the moment. I am in the show until 28th September, and then I head up Glasgow the next day for rehearsals. We then open the show on 1st October.

So we open in Glasgow and then, as you say, we will be heading everywhere. We hit the O2 on 13th October; I think. And I finish on 15th in Liverpool. I am in Bournemouth the next night with The Rocky Horror Show; so I am not getting a break (laughs).

- You landed the role for the show through ITV's Superstar, so what made you go for the role on the show in the first place?

First and foremost it was the fact that I wanted to play the part; if it had been to be Danny Zuko, I probably wouldn’t have.

But when there is an epic and amazing part that everyone would have fought for on offer... If there is one that is worth the risk of going on a TV show, not knowing how it is going to be portrayed, or you are going to be portrayed it was the part that was worth the risk; this was a risk for me.

At the time, a lot of leading roles were going to people with profiles or celebrities. I was having a discussion with another leading West End guy, and he said ’if you can’t beat them, then join them; it is what we have to do now’.

We both auditioned for it. It is hard to keep our jobs if you haven’t got a profile. I thought that even if I got into the final five then that would give me the platform to get auditions for other shows. It was a business decision and a decision of love and respect for the part.

- And how was your Superstar experience when you look back on it now?

It was really interesting. It was difficult. Obviously, the TV side and the live shows was as terrifying as you would imagine it to be.

Actually, it was a really complicated process as there were a lot of politics between the boys, there were politics between everyone on every level.

It was being nice to everyone that I could be nice to, but not wanting to just be the boring guy who wouldn’t be interesting; it was a funny thing to balance.

I don’t want to use the words ‘playing a game’ but I had to make sure that I was visible to all the producers, but then I had to be on top of my game when I was performing and auditioning for Andrew (Lloyd Webber) and for Melanie and Jason.

I also had to get on with the guys; I lived with ten guys in the house. So it was juggling people’s emotions and all of that stuff, which was really hard. It was a really full-on experience as it was 24 hours a day for three or four months.

- It was clear that everyone had a real passion for this show and this role. So what is it about Jesus Christ Superstar that is the draw for you?

It is probably one of the hardest roles for a guy. The song Gethsemane uses all of your range, completely. I think it is just the journey, and the story that you are telling. I also look all the songs in the music.

I think that this show does have a real magic to it and to be involved and tell that story and sing that song - life doesn’t get much better.

- You are in The Rocky Horror Show at the moment, as you say, so how is that going?

Brilliant, an absolutely blast. I couldn’t be more different as I have gone from playing Jesus to wearing a g-string (laughs). The audiences are completely nuts and really do get involved; you really do see some sights in the front row.

There is so much audience interaction and participation, so you never know what is going to be hurled at you line-wise. It is a nice experience. I am playing Brad; a 1950’s American geek. It is a nice contrasting part, and that is one of the reasons that I wanted to be in the show.

- Finally, you are obviously you are enjoying huge success at the moment but where would you like your career to take you over the next couple of years?

That is so hard. I really see myself as a performer and an entertainer; I don’t necessarily see myself as a theatre guy or just a singer. I would like to do TV, and I would like to do film.

I am working on a new album at the moment; I have one that is going to be released in time for the tour that is a cover's album.

I did an acoustic cover's album last year, just before Superstar, that did really well and all of my fans on Twitter asked me to do another one. I am also working on an original album.

I would love to do a West End show as well as TV and stuff. So whatever opportunities come my way I am going to asses that and go in the direction that I think I should.

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