Barry Ferrier, of Bangalow, and Paul Joseph, of Lismore, run through some of the songs from their Jesus Christ Superstar days.
Barry Ferrier, of Bangalow, and Paul Joseph, of Lismore, run through some of the songs from their Jesus Christ Superstar days. Marc Stapelberg

'Superstar' 40 years on

FORTY years after the first Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera performance in Australia, one of the original cast, Lismore local Paul Joseph, reflected on what it was like to be part of the revolutionary show.

Jesus Christ Superstar debuted in Australia in 1972 and Mr Joseph said it revolutionised Australian opera.

"Forty years ago it was revolutionary to bring a rock band and a choir together as an opera," he said.

"It was also the beginning of technology in opera productions."

The self-proclaimed hippie was in his 20s at the time and he said even the costumes were revolutionary.

"They were just like a bit of cloth you wrap around yourself and your backside nearly showed," he recalled.

"I used to say I was the apostle with the colossal tassel."

However, Jesus Christ Superstar caused controversy among some Australian religious groups.

"At the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, we were met with a group of Christians holding signs and shouting slogans because they thought we were blasphemous for telling Judas's side of the story," Mr Joseph recalled.

He played an apostle and leper, while many members of the original cast, including renowned rock musician Jon English, who played Judas, are now considered legendary Australian performers.

Mr Joseph has close ties with fellow Northern Rivers resident and former Jesus Christ Superstar performer Geoffrey Gilmour.

"I was in a contract but I really wanted to get back to the country, so I got out of the contract and Geoffrey Gilmour took my place," he recalled.

"There was a fire scare one night during the show and an asbestos curtain came down and crushed his spine. He's been paralysed ever since."

Many of the original members met in Sydney to celebrate the Australian show's 40th anniversary on the weekend.

"There were some truly great artists in the show but 40 years is a long time and it's quite sad because quite a few have passed on now," Mr Joseph said.



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