Jesus is back – Sunderland’s Superstar lands in the North East

Ben Forster as Jesus and Tim Minchin as Judas Iscariot in rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar.

Ben Forster as Jesus and Tim Minchin as Judas Iscariot in rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar.

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SUNDERLAND’s very own superstar Ben Forster is ready to rock the North East tonight.

The Millfield lad who won the starring role in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, said being back in the region is amazing.

FROM ITV''SUPERSTAR LIVE on Friday 20 July 2012''Picture Shows: Ben''Source: Digital''Photographer: Kieron McCarron ''Picture Publicist: Shane.chapman@itv.com / 020 715 73043''Copyright: ITV

FROM ITV''SUPERSTAR LIVE on Friday 20 July 2012''Picture Shows: Ben''Source: Digital''Photographer: Kieron McCarron ''Picture Publicist: Shane.chapman@itv.com / 020 715 73043''Copyright: ITV

Excited Ben, 31, said he can’t wait to perform tonight at Newcastle’s Metro Arena, watched by thousands of people, including dozens of his family and friends.

The former Thornhill pupil beat hundreds of hopefuls to clinch the role of Jesus through the hit ITV show, Superstar, and says being in the production is the most incredible experience ever.

He said: “The opening night was unbelievable and we have had some amazing reviews. I had loads of people tweeting messages saying I was amazing, which was fantastic.

“It was like an out-of-body experience. I came off and was thinking, ‘did I really do that’?

“The power of the applause and cheers is bizarre. The roar when I stepped forward to take my bow was deafening, it was like a storm coming towards me. It is just fabulous.”

Ben’s proud mum and dad Joan and Ted, along with his sister Abbey Lancaster, travelled to London for the opening night.

He said: “They just loved it. We were hanging out with all the celebs.

“I met Bono and The Edge from U2 and just knowing they had watched the show and were telling me I was unreal, was amazing.”

Ben clinched the dream role in July and it was straight into rehearsals for the show. He is looking forward to a well-earned day off tomorrow.

He said: “It is going to be so great to see all my family and friends again and have a good catch-up. I haven’t seen my nana and my nephews for a while now.”

This latest production of Lord Lloyd-Webber’s iconic musical, directed by Laurence Connor, is set in modern times.

Wearside’s Ben takes centre stage alongside comedian Tim Minchin as Judas Iscariot, Spice Girl Mel C as Mary Magdalene, and former Radio 1 breakfast show host, Chris Moyles as King Herod.

A second Sunderland actor, Michael Pickering, 27, from Barnes, who is also a former Thornhill School pupil, is starring in the production as disciple Peter.

Ben, who moved to London when he was 17 to go to stage school, said he is giving his all to the performances to show the millions of people who voted for him to be given the role that they made the right choice.

Twitter: @sunechoschools