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Performance ‘could bring Christianity to audiences’

The Church of England’s Bishop of Bradford said the TV talent search for a new leading man for the musical Jesus Christ Superstar could bring Christianity to people who do not find their way into church.

They might get Jesus talked about in the pub and in places occupied by people who don’t find their way into church

The Rt Rev Nick Baines said Andrew Lloyd Webber’s quest to find a star to play Jesus on the forthcoming ITV1 show Superstar could provoke unlikely audiences to engage with him.

Writing in a blog for the Daily Telegraph, the bishop said: “Musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar offer another way of capturing popular imagination and engaging another generation with the questions the gospels raise.

“They might get Jesus talked about in the pub and in places occupied by people who don’t find their way into church.”

Members of the cast already announced for the stage show include former Spice Girl Mel C, Olivier Award-winning comic and musician Tim Minchin and Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, who will play King Herod.

The bishop said: “When the cast list was announced there was some surprise at the names. But, surely a reformed Spice Girl isn’t misplaced as Mary Magdalene, trying to understand her love for Jesus?

“And isn’t Chris Moyles perfect to play a Herod? Perhaps the most surprising choice was Tim Minchin as Judas.

“But, why not cast a controversial and avowed atheist as the one through whose eyes and experience Jesus is explored in the musical?”

The first episode of the ITV show will be broadcast on Saturday and the stage show will tour the country after a suitable candidate is found to fill the title role.

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