Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre

This production runs through Saturday, March 2

By: Feb. 28, 2024
Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre
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It is no surprise that tickets were sold out for the first week at The Argenta Community Theater, 405 Main St., in North Little Rock, with Broadway’s smash hit musical GODSPELL, which runs through Saturday, March 2. With Music and New Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Direction by Vincent Insalaco and Music Direction by the amazing Bob Bidewell, this collective group of artists brings a powerful story to the stage through song, dance, and dramady that will sear onto your Christian heart and ignite the passion to sustain you throughout the rest of Lent.    

Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre

Set in a busy city (probably New York City), GODSPELL is a group of parables with songs that are mostly set to lyrics from traditional hymns laced in between the stories. John The Baptist (Willie Lucius) tell the company of actors to “Prepare Ye” and then Jesus (J. Kirt Thomas) joins the group and gets baptized by John. Each parable has different ensemble members taking leads to explain the lessons. Then, a soloist steps forward to sing. Except during intermission, everyone stays on stage or thereabout to collectively keep the parables going. At the end, they do a brief number on the Passion of the Christ, carry Jesus off the stage, and everyone bows with Jesus dressed in his beautiful white regalia.  

This is truly an ensemble piece with everyone working together in order to get the stories told, with only Jesus, John the Baptist, and Judas (also Willie Lucius) having character names. Everyone else uses their real first names and steps out to take the leads at different times. Because the parables were created and directed by various cast members, they did have a disparate feel to each part at times, but they still seemed to flow together to get to the main point of the show.  

Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre

Since there were so many powerhouse performers in one space, the energy radiated through the whole theatre. The musical numbers really spotlighted the strengths of the cast. The women especially shined during their solos. I was already a fan of Kristen Phantazia Smith, Satia Spencer and Emory Tyson Molitor who had their own numbers, but I was thrilled to get to vocally know a lot more gifted people who took their moments. Kelley Ponder took the lead in the catchy “Bless The Lord,” Steven Jones was amazing during “Light of the World,” and Ashley Merrill led the company in the beautiful “By My Side.” The most joyous one to watch was Kyra, who not only had a fantastic voice, but was also impressive on the ukulele. And, I can’t leave out Alexandra Rose Vigil on the harp. I have always wanted to learn how to play the harp, so when she brought that out, my starry-heart eyes went to her.  

Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre

Of course, Thomas as Jesus and Lucius as Judas really brought out the emotions and ultimately tears of the audience. Lucius owned the angst that Judas was building up throughout the latter half of the musical. You could feel the struggle and acceptance of what had to be done. Thomas embodied kindness and peace. The love could be seen in his eyes and movement. He lit up the stage as he not only blessed his castmates but the audience as well. His compassion was felt, and my fellow audience members and I were upset during the crucifixion scene. They really got us there at the end.  

Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre

I loved how the band was right there on stage and even participated in some of the scenes. Bob Bidewell is amazing, and he put together a fabulous group of musicians who made the musical experience even better. The Band consists of Bidewell-Conductor/Music Director, Cadence Garbett-Drums, Isaac Helgestad-Guitar, Jamie Joheim-Bass, and Becky Goins-Keyboard.  

Broadway World acknowledges that it takes a small army to get a show like this to the stage in the little time that they take to produce it. On the Creative Team are Nathan Abshire-Sound Designer, Manuel Angeles-Master Electrician, Nicholas Bius-Assistant Technical Director, George Chambers III-Light Crew, Sara Cooke-Technical Director/Set Designer, Thomas Drake-Light Board Operator, Choreographer-Brian Earles, Microphone Technician-Rex Easter III, Wardrobe Supervisor-X Freelon, Glenn Grossman & Natisha Jones-Spotlight Operator, Shelly Hall-Costume Designer, Savannah Halter-Dance Captain, Dena Kimberling-Lighting Designer, Kay Knight & Maggie Simpson-Stage Manager, Dale Miller-Set/Props Crew, Lauren Nicholas-Props Designer, Rick Nicholas-Props Specialist, and Beverly Williams-House Manager.  

Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre

One of my favorite things about the Argenta is how welcoming the people are there. I want to thank our hostess Alyson Courtney who always throws the best parties for media night. She does an amazing job! I am sad I didn’t get to see my favorite Bob Blevins. It’s always an extra joy every time he is there.  

Broadway World would love to give a shout out to photographer extraordinaire Warren McCullough for the use of these stunning photos. Email Warren at wjmcasting@gmail.com for all of your photography needs.  

Review: GODSPELL at Argenta Community Theatre




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