BWW Reviews: 'Learn Your Lessons Well' with GODSPELL in Kansas City
You have not heard the gospel, until you have heard it as told by Egads! Theatre Company's current production of Godspell. Godspell, from the book by John Michael Tebelak and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, opened Saturday night March 1 at the Off Center Theatre.
Before the show on Saturday Steven Eubank, Artistic Director, and the Director of Godspell, said that Egads! had moved away from their usual campy productions to join the mainstream with this musical. The show intended to be mainstream, has some wonderfully entertaining tributaries when the opening number has the disciples singing into cell phones. Throw in fist pumps, chest pumps, and hand signals and this interpretation of the life of Jesus steps into modern times.
The choreography by Tiffany Powell is wild, energetic, and brilliantly performed to music directed by Kevin Bogan and Julie Danielson. The band consists of conductor and keyboard artist Lyndell Leatherman, Tony Kirkland and Sean Hogge on guitar, Kevin Payton on bass, and Ron Ernst on drums and percussions.
The use of pantomime, acrobatics, charades, and a touch of vaudeville bring the parables of Jesus to life on the stage. Matthew A. King superbly plays the lead role of Jesus, who spouts revelations meant to guide humanity to the glories of heaven. His voice booms in perfect harmony with the cast and is magnificent in the solos from the second act. What a delight to watch as Jesus while singing breaks into a soft shoe dance with the cast.
Chelsea Anglemyer returns to the Egads! stage as Chelsea, a disciple following Jesus. She previously had the starring role in Carrie: The Musical, at the Off Center Theatre. Her facial expressions add to the humor as she reacts to what occurs on the stage. Her voice is wonderful as she sings "Day by Day" in the first act and opens the second act with the talented Ryan Hruza at the piano.
Samn Wright is excellent in the role of John the Baptist and especially Judas. His performance helps the audience to feel his anguish as Jesus tells Judas to go and betray him to fulfill the prophecies. Egads! audiences have experienced his wonderful voice many times, as he appeared in Rocky Horror Show, Evil Dead the Musical, and Rocky & Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show.
Returning to perform with Eubanks is Christopher Carlson, who played Tommy Ross in Carrie: The Musical, Kenna Marie Hall, from Zombie Prom, and Stephanie Stevens, who appeared as Columbia in Rocky Horror Show. Making their debut on the Egads! stage are Ryan Hruza and Josh Atkins (both are appearing for the first time in Kansas City), Kelsea Victoria McLean, and Sarah Morrissey. Eubanks again has put together an extremely talented cast that fulfills one of the Egads! Theatre Company goals, to let the audience escape their world for a couple of hours.
Godspell continues at the Off Center Theatre through March 23, with evening performances beginning at 8 p.m. Egads! Theatre Company is performing two matinees Saturday March 15 and Sunday March 23. Both matinees begin at 2 p.m. Purchase tickets at the Egads! Theatre Company website, or call the box office at 816-545-6000. Photographs courtesy of Egads! Theatre Company.