Music and Lyrics by Harry Chapin
Book by Tom Key and Russel Treyz
Directed by Lou Contey
Music Direction by Alaric Jans
Choreography by Priscilla Hummel
At Provision Theatre
Toe-tapping blues grass musical soars with enhanced staging and vocals
Now in their new permanent home at 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Provision Theatre opens their new season with an enhanced mounting of their past hit Gospel musical, Cotton Patch Gospel. Director Lou Contey added a four person choirs and a rusted pickup truck plus four excellent bluegrass musician/singers to aid Tim Gregory as he tells the story of Matthew and John’s gospel. Cotton Patch Gospel’s book (by Tom Key and Russel Treyz) is reverential retelling of the New Testament in a contemporary Southern setting (Georgia & Mississippi) set to bluesgrass music (by Harry Chapin).
This easy to digest musical is full of charm that oozes from every movement and utterance from Tim Gregory who plays every character in Gospel. Gregory is a master storyteller at home with his material. He comes off as sincere, truthful and charming. The bluegrass music from Chapin contains toe-tapping bluegrass rhythms that foretell, enhance and celebrate the coming of Jesus. With hints of religious hymns and gospel emotions, Cotton Patch Gospel plays as a pleasant, light homily to Christian beliefs that doesn’t push their doctrine down your throat. It is a breezy, sweet and easy to digest gospel bluegrass musical. it is also a tour de force vehicle for the talented Tim Gregory. Gregory sure owns the material as he presents Matthew and John’s good news story as a fine morality tales.
The non-mic’d, sounds from the singers/musicians filled the good sized stage with pure acoustical from the bass, fiddle, guitar and banjo played deftly by Shaun Whitley, Farley Masterton, Trey Maclin and Alex Goodrich. The choirs of Christian David, Whitney Clair White, Krystal Metcalfe and Dora Marie Washington Powell added heavenly harmonies to Chapin’s songs.
Cptton Patch Gospel is filled with excellent storytelling, great bluegrass music and a wonderful performance by Tim Gregory. This is uplifting family show with loads of heart. Take the entire family, they’ll love it!
At provision Theatre, 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL, call 866-811-4111, www.provisiontheater.org, tickets $25 – $28, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission.