BWW Reviews: Playful and Energetic GODSPELL at the Peabody Opera House
The musical Godspell will always hold a special place in my heart since I was fortunate enough to produce the music for a version several years ago. While it was quite an undertaking for one person, it allowed me to get very familiar with Stephen Schwartz's genre-hopping score. Ever since, I've been a unabashed fan of the work. The Peabody Opera House is presenting a very good production buoyed by a talented and energetic cast. Even if you're not a particularly religious person, you'll still find plenty to appreciate in this family-friendly show.
Essentially, this is a musical exploration of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, that utilizes the parables as a jumping off point for sketches, songs, and dance numbers. What makes it so fun, is that the script allows each group that produces it a certain amount of leeway in the presentation. And, each company utilizes their own modern cultural references to bring out surprising moments of humor. In this case, Donald Trump, Charlies Angels and musical quotes from the likes of Pink Floyd and Psy's "Gangnam Style"are utilized (among many others). It's filled with laughs, as well as truly touching moments that are actually quite moving.
Jake Stern is terrific as Jesus, taking command of his followers and gently guiding them down the righteous path while relating tales designed to make them understand what faith really means. His strong voice comes through clearly on numbers like "Save the People", "All for the Best" and "Alas for You". Graham Parkhurst does fine work as Judas contributing a solid version of "Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord", and nicely joining in with Stern on "All for the Best".
A strong supporting cast includes: Lisa Michelle Cornelius, Michael De Rose, Michael Hogeveen, Stacey Kay, Ivan Lo, Alessia Lupiano, Rebecca McCauley, and Janelle Murray. Musical highlights include McCauley's sparkling rendition of "Day By Day", Murray's rousing version of " Learn Your Lessons Well", and Lupiano's charged take on "Turn Back, O Man".
David Hogan's direction is very well conceived and executed, with the action moving along at a brisk pace. He's aided in his efforts by the sharp musical direction of Mark Payne, and the lovely staiNed Glass scenic design of David Rogers. Adele Mackenzie's choreography gives some added bounce to the numbers, and Jeff Johnston-Collins' lighting scheme keeps everything in sharp focus.
This sparkling version of Godspell continues through November 17, 2013 at the Peabody Opera House.