Those of an age to recall the 1971 version of the John-Michael Tebelak/Stephen Schwartz musical “Godspell” are in for some surprises while enjoying the 2012 revised version on stage at Lincolnshire’s Marriott Theatre. A score that, with one exception, fell on the ears as more folky-than-rocky, with gentle, repeating phrases that could lull an audience into a contemplative spell, coupled with a book that suggested youthful players swept up into the world of a Christ-figure teaching truths born of ancient doctrines, capable of firing the imagination and shaping the morals of the cast and the audience as well, tells the same story in director Matt Raftery’s production, albeit with a definite twenty-first-century sensibility.
... I sat surrounded by a sea of people—mostly unknown to each other, coming to the theater from very different types of days, with their own physical and fiscal aches and pains—turned into a congregation as the ten performers on the Marriott stage found each other, and fell in love—with each other and with the resonance of parables of love and acceptance. Shorn of fire and brimstone, and fired with compassion and acceptance, the message of this piece will turn any room of strangers into disciples.
Christine Mild was a wonder to watch, with a voice that can sing the entire piano. Lillie Cummings sang a plaintive “Day By Day,” and Samantha Pauly comically vamped her way through the vocally challenging “Turn Back, O Man” with aplomb. Devin DeSantis charmed as John, and made us cry for him as an entrapped Judas. Brian Bohr, a blond choirboy in a sky-blue polo shirt, gave a Jesus awash in joy, and then drowned in responsibility. Tom Vendafreddo’s pliant tenor melted us with “All Good Gifts,” and his on-stage keyboards delighted the parishioners both onstage and off.