Godspell First Draft Reviews

Here is where you can post your reviews of the production of Godspell.

3 Comments on “Godspell First Draft Reviews

  1. The play from a summer at Bible camp. That’s the best way to describe this production of “Godspell” at the KCACFT festival. From that statement alone, it’s evident that if you don’t have much background with the Bible tales, or have never been to church, this play may be very confusing to say the least. This play was one of the most fortunate at KCACFT to have an actual theater to be used, chairs, curtains, working lights and sound. They also had a full size set, which upon further observation, resembled multiple crosses upon the chain link fence and random wardrobes holding props. Despite these advantages, there were a lot of technical problems. The actors mics cut in and out noticeably, and frequently microphones sounded like they were being tossed around in their hands. But that didn’t stop the actors. During one of the biggest numbers, the lighting unexpectedly cut out, leaving the actors to perform their choreography in the dark. It was proven they were taught well stage etiquette, as they did not stop their performance, and the crowd responded positively to their commitment. The lights once again cut out in the same number, and not till after a few minutes did black lights come on to light up the cast, clearly what was supposed to happen earlier. One thing that proved admirable was their commitment to the piece, despite how strange it was. The retelling of tales and critical lessons from the bible were executed with a more modern twist. Many pop culture references such as “Mario”, “Starwars”, and “Into the woods” appeared throughout the play, which certainly kept theses interesting. But hoped the line of being too cheese in a clear effort to make these religious tales more enjoyable to watch. Secret handshakes held for a decent majority of the choreography, one given to each character to symbolize a personal connection with the one playing Jesus. However the choreography at times did seem to childish in a way that didn’t seem purposeful, rather just an easier option. With lots of hand shaking, and prop holding, there was no real daring piece to set this apart from other musicals. That being said, the actors did put their all into doing the moves, no matter the skill level. They did highlight the best Tap Dancer in their piece, with a skillful tap solo, which was greatly appreciated. At intermission, it was distressing to see groups of people leaving and not coming back, almost urging their friends to join them. There was a noticeable amount of people missing, but hopefully not to the actors. There were further confusing artistic choices made within the play. For one, all costume or prop changes took place on stage, resulting in the audience to know what exactly was coming next. From pompoms, to cups and snacks for the last dinner, and to the biggest “surprise” the finger lights. One of the most visually appealing numbers was early anticipated when the audience could see all the actors applying gloves that were lighting up; Dampening the effect when the lights went black to reveal multi-colored lights to dance around the stage. Still prevailing, the cast continued with great enthusiasm and good singing throughout their numerous trials. The ending started out very bittersweet, like saying goodbye to friends when graduating high school. People were sniffling and trying to cover up their tears. Then suddenly the audience was hit with the most violence, anguish, and betrayal, that never slightly appeared previously, especially to those unfamiliar with the story. The lack of build up to this crucial moment, was very confusing and unexpected. Though unexpected, there was so much emotion and drama that made the ending work well and kept people crying and in the moment. Very slowly, was a standing ovation created. The saddest part it seemed however, was when the cast came to do a reprise. Before they ended their song leading to the reprise, half of the audience began to hurry out of the theater, leaving the actors to watch as their audience paid no mind to them still preforming. It was a very sad sight to see, watching the actors eyes follow crowds of people out the door. This was disappointing, knowing a majority of them were in theater themselves, and would think to have the decency and respect towards their fellow theater colleagues, to remain a few moments longer. Dedication showed itself more than anything that night, and the casts should be proud.

  2. The Bible stories re-told by the legendary musical “Godspell” are so widely known that just a phrase or a word can bring them to mind. Does The Prodigal Son ring a bell? How about the story of Lazarus? In a way, the fact that these parables are so firmly wedged into the public consciousness is somewhat freeing for artists intending to retell them in their own way. In a way, that potential to indulge in a bold and strange take makes Southern Connecticut State University’s production somewhat refreshing in its simplicity. It might not be the most groundbreaking staging of the show, but it certainly makes for a light and enjoyable evening of theater.

    For those unfamiliar with Godspell (as this critic was before the show), it essentially tells the story of Jesus Christ’s life and death, adapted from, well… the Bible. If you don’t know a little about that going in I can’t help you too much. The twist here is that the messiah’s ministry is presented as him telling stories to his friends and followers interspersed with rock-opera style musical numbers. The songs span genres, from a slinky (but not too slinky) cabaret number to one song in particular with a hip-hop tinge. Yes, Jesus does indeed rap in this version of the show.

    Hopefully, from the previous statement, it’s easy to tell that the production doesn’t take itself too seriously. The scenery and props are bright and colorful—aside from a few slightly off-color jokes, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see this presented as a children’s show. The costumes are loose and flowing, almost giving off a hippie vibe, which is accented by neon-colored hearts and peace signs painted on the performers’ faces. This association makes a great deal of sense, come to think of it. Who preached peace and love better than Jesus himself?

    Many of the musical numbers are defined by a specific prop used in the dance choreography. One that sticks out is the bright golden cheerleading pom-poms that feature in one of the show’s later songs; another musical segment is defined by the use of gloves with light-tipped fingers, which became especially dazzling when the theater lights were shut off. These features kept things interesting and made sure that the song-and-dance portions of the show didn’t feel repetitive.

    Pop culture also sneaks into quite a few moments of the show, though never in an overly gimmicky way. Jesus wears a Captain America t-shirt (a nod to His larger-than-life power?), and one of his disciples sports the Batman logo on his chest. The story of the Prodigal Son makes creative use of puppet versions of Darth Vader and Luigi of the Mario series, with the Mario theme music appearing in an especially memorable moment. The crowd reacted quite favorably to these brief references, perhaps showing that these stories can be altered and tinkered with, without necessarily making them less powerful or memorable.

    It should be noted that a few technical glitches popped up during the show. In one instance, the lights blacked out a couple times during a musical number (not the one with glowing-finger gloves), and another time a slight prop malfunction caused a minor hiccup. There were sporadic audio pops and other mic problems, but otherwise the sound presentation worked quite well. Even when these little problems cropped up, the performers took them in stride and kept singing and dancing without a stumble.

    Such a relatively straightforward presentation of “Godspell” might not be the most exciting for those already familiar with the show, but for a newbie like this critic it was an enjoyably silly introduction to a production that some have seen many times over. Performed with a great deal of sincerity, not to mention singing and dancing skill, the running time of the show practically flew by as the audience was taken from parable to parable and from musical style to musical style. The show may be well-worn, but Southern Connecticut State University brought the sort of palpable energy that made it feel brand new again.

  3. The play from a summer at Bible camp. That’s the best way to describe this production of “Godspell” at the KC/ACTF festival. If you don’t have much background with the Bible tales, or have never been to church, this play may be very confusing to say the least. Due to weather conditions, most plays at the festival were not able to mount their performance on a real stage. “Godspell” was lucky enough to use the actual theater with curtains, working lights and sound. They also had a full size set, which upon further observation, resembled multiple crosses upon the chain link fence and random wardrobes holding props. Despite these advantages, there were a lot of technical problems. The actors microphones cut in and out noticeably, and frequently microphones sounded like they were being tossed around in their hands. But that didn’t stop the actors. During one of the biggest numbers, the lighting unexpectedly cut out, leaving the actors to perform their choreography in the dark. It was proven they were taught well stage etiquette, as they did not stop their performance, and the crowd responded positively to their commitment. The lights once again cut out in the same number, and not till after a few minutes did black lights come on to light up the cast, clearly what was supposed to happen earlier.
    One thing that proved admirable was their commitment to the piece. The retelling of tales and critical lessons from the Bible were performed with a more modern twist. Many pop culture references such as “Mario”, “Star Wars”, and “Into the Woods” appeared throughout the play, which certainly kept things interesting. But hopped the line of being too cheesy in a clear effort to make these religious tales more enjoyable to watch. A majority of the choreography looked like handshakes you’d find in a secret club, one given to each character to symbolize a personal connection with the one playing Jesus. However the choreography at times did seem too childish in a way that didn’t seem purposeful.
    With lots of hand shaking, and prop holding, there was no show stopping moment or musical number that made the play memorable. That being said, the actors did put their all into doing the moves, no matter the skill level. They did highlight the best Tap Dancer in their piece, with a skillful tap solo, which was greatly appreciated.
    At intermission, it was distressing to see groups of people leaving and not coming back, almost urging their friends to join them. There was a noticeable amount of people missing by the second act. There were further confusing artistic choices made within the play. It was very easy to see what was coming next, since all costume or prop changes took place on stage. From pompoms for cheerleaders, to cups and snacks for the last dinner, and to the biggest “surprise” the finger lights. One of the most visually appealing numbers was early anticipated when the audience could see all the actors applying gloves that were lighting up; Dampening the effect when the lights went black to reveal multi-colored lights to dance around the stage.
    Still prevailing, the cast continued with great enthusiasm and good singing throughout their numerous trials. The ending started out very bittersweet, like saying goodbye to friends when graduating high school. People were sniffling and trying to cover up their tears. But nothing in the play prepared stylistically for the sudden shift in mood. Suddenly the audience was hit with the most violence, anguish, and betrayal, which could have been the effect they were looking for. Though unexpected, there was so much emotion and drama that made the ending work well and kept people crying and in the moment. A standing ovation emerged slowly, as the audience was unsure how to respond. The saddest part it seemed however, was when the cast came to do a reprise. Before they ended their song leading to the reprise, half of the audience began to hurry out of the theater, leaving the actors to watch as their audience paid no mind to them still preforming. It was a very sad sight to see, watching the actors eyes follow crowds of people out the door. This was disappointing, knowing a majority of them were in theater themselves, and would think to have the decency and respect towards their fellow theater colleagues, to remain a few moments longer. Dedication showed itself more than anything that night, and the casts should be proud.

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