Bishop invites Jesus Christ Superstar to church

The Bishop of Manchester has invited the actor playing Jesus in the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar to pay a visit to Manchester Cathedral.

The show rolls into Manchester on 30 September - the same day as Back to Church Sunday, when churches across the country open their doors to give a special welcome to lapsed Christians.

In a letter to the show's producers, Bishop Nigel McCulloch invites Ben Forster and the other cast and crew members to a special welcome at the cathedral.

Bishop McCulloch said he hoped his welcome would "contribute to the success of the production".

“Back to Church Sunday is all about the church offering a welcome to today’s culture and that is what we hope to do - both at church and in the MEN Arena, for what should be a fantastic performance of the musical," he said.

"Having Jesus, the disciples and Mary Magdalene arriving in Manchester on that day was too good an opportunity to miss. They are all welcome - even Herod, Judas and Pilate.”

Manchester Cathedral is used to welcoming rock stars and has recently hosted concerts by Elbow and Noah and the Whale.

Thousands of churches take part in Back to Church Sunday each year. The initiative began in the Diocese of Manchester and spread nationwide after it proved a huge success. Now the idea has gone global and is held in countries like New Zealand and the US.

In addition to Ben Forster, the cast of the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar Jesus includes vocal atheist and comedian Tim Minchin as Judas, Chris Moyles as Herod, and Mel C as Mary Magdalene.