4 Stars Out Of 4
“Godspell” is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and the book by John-Michael Tebelak which opened off Broadway in 1971. Well, 43 years has passed and there have been touring companies, many renditions, and even a revival on Broadway in 2011. The play is a series of parables based mostly on the gospel of St. Matthew. There is nothing better than a good story and if you find some faith in the mix that is even better yet! “Godspell” opened Wednesday night to a packed house of all ages. A lot of new followers 20 something year olds, mixed in with the more mature crowd and even a few scattered school aged kids. My daughter Ella, who is 7, was intrigued by the energetic improv scenes (loved the sheep vs. goats) as well as the great music. She also pointed out that the lead Brian Bohr was the teacher in “School House Rock Live” which we attended at the Marriott as well, excellent observation for a 7 year old.
The cast is young and fresh and had a great connection and sense of community which is what the show really is meant to portray. Building a beautiful city, finding something to believe in, inspiring others and most of all choosing good over evil are the main themes throughout the show. Everyone from every faith will find a moment of pleasure if not many moments.
The opening number “Tower of Babble” brings the show current along with cell phones ringing, tweeting, and banter about selfies (I don’t like that word). Once past the noise Devin DeSantis (John/Judas) thrills the audience with his powerful Prepare ye the way of the Lord which begins the journey into the question that we all are curious about, “Who is this man anyway and why should we listen to him?”
The young girl hidden by glasses and a hat, Lillie Cummings, does a smashing rendition of “Day by Day” a really brought the house down. I don’t think anybody was expecting such a powerful voice hidden behind her disguise. Tom Vendafreddo did a show stopping “All Good Gifts” and he also played the keyboards onstage throughout various numbers and is really multi-talented.
In another really entertaining song, “Turn Back Oh Man” Samantha Pauly goes from her bathrobe, to her onesie, to her superhero costume and this petite powerhouse really plays to the audience and we loved it! Each of the Pharisees have a chance to express themselves through song and various scenes. Another favorite is “All for the Best” with Jesus and John (Brian and Devin) with the ensemble joining in as well.
This show is fun, it is childlike it brings up a lot of questions for young minds as I experienced on the way home with my daughter (explaining the body and blood, scenes of betrayal and crucifixion) so that makes it a quite educational as well. We do need to “Learn Your Lessons Well” as Christine will tell you after all.
The musical direction by Ryan T. Nelson with Patti Garwood conducting the off-stage orchestra is phenomenal.
Lessons learned: When you do something good for someone don’t boast about it you will be rewarded. Overcome evil with love because love wins every time. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Religion or no religion seems like common sense to me.
We really enjoyed this show so much. I have not been to a performance in quite a while where the entire audience was standing, singing, dancing and cheering at the end of the show. That must say something! Shout out to Jesus and his Pharisees.