Jesus Christ Superstar has been the definitive rock musical ever since its 1972 stage premiere in London. Revived to great acclaim in the late 1990s, it has everything you'd expect from a blockbuster: great songs, strong characterization, and, crucially, a cracking good story.

This release is based on the 1998 London production (also available on video and DVD). For the revival, director Gale Edwards pulls few punches in her efforts to draw a modern interpretation from a gifted cast. Pilate's cronies are sinister Darth Vader look-alikes. The whole thing has a hard, brutal edge, which both startles and thrills. And anyone who dismisses musicals as lightweight confections could do worse than look at the way Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice treat Judas: this is a complex, well-written role.

The performances are largely excellent: Jerome Pradon's Judas shines, and Renee Castle's Mary reinvents "I Don't Know How to Love Him" as a delicate exploration of her dilemma, far removed from its usual overblown treatment.

Rik Mayall's relentlessly mugging Herod is less of a bonus than he would like us to believe, but he will doubtless appeal to his fans. And the quality of Glenn Carter's singing in the title role makes up for a slight deficiency in the charisma department.

  -Piers Ford