Conceived and originally directed by John Michael Tebelak
Directed & choreographed by Matt Raftery
Music Direction by Ryan T. Nelson
At Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire
Tuneful New Testament parables come to life on Marriott stage.
I have never understood what the fascination is with Goodspell? The 1971 musical features a contemporary take on the New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Luke presented and sung in a pop/rock style. The show comes off as a Christian musical sermon since the musical uses various parables to tell its story. Its subject, Christian theology, is both a curious choice for a Broadway musical and a perplexing selection for Marriott Theatre. I’m not sure who the audience is for Godspell? Many Christians go to church on Sundays to get their dose of religion thus they go to theatre to be enlightened and entertained. Some may not want their religion eschewed in a musical; others, non-Christians may be offended by so much Christianity on stage. Others will enjoy this provocative musical. That being said, Goodspell features music by Stephen Schwartz with lyrics inspired by Christian hymns penned also by Schwartz. The pop/rock score features an assortment of catchy tunes ranging from anthems to folksy homilies to scorching ballads. Director Matt Raftery opens the show with a cappella style featuring a blend of individual and various parts harmony from his ten member cast. This technique produced a weirdly haunting prologue that set the tone for the show. Jesus (Brian Bohr) narrates and presents the parables to his group of followers through song and spoken word.
The build up of Jesus’ preaching is joyously sung my the talented cast. The memorable “Day by Day” is sung nicely by Lillie Cummings and the ensemble. Brian Bohr sporting a smiling, beguile and charming Jesus appears to be the ‘boy next store. ‘ He sings wonderfully as he preaches and teaches his flock his beliefs. Devin Desantis, as John and Judas had fine moments.
Godspell delivers the “Word” effectively in a fresh, organic and intimate production that is a fine assortment of 70’s pop style tunes.
The cast sings, enunciates and articulates the lyrics effectively – a rare treat in a pop/rock musical.
Lovers of Broadway pop will love this show ultra-religious Christians and non-Christians may be offended by the material. I simply found Christian parables trite and uninteresting. I must say that Matt Raftery and his cast of youthful players did their best to engage us. The vocals were the best moments here. Good production of curious material makes for mixed results.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed> June 11, 2014
For more info checkout the Godspell page at theatreinchicago.com
At Marriott Theatre, Rt 22 & Rt 45. Lincolnshire, IL, call847-634-0200, www.marriotttheatre.com, tickets $40 – $48, Wednesdays at 1 & 8 pm, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5 pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through August 10,2014