The 30th anniversary show at Turtle Lane Playhouse is "Godspell" which the group did as their first production in 1980. I reviewed it on opening night with a different Jesus and Judas. So I returned to review this show a second time. "Godspell" first opened in May, 1971 and the pop references and language have been updated, to include cell phones in this version. This joyous contemporary piece of musical theatre is a reflection of the parables of Jesus. Its timeless message has always been about finding your faith in this modern world. The show has gained strength since it first opened at Turtle Lane and the two performers bring a new energy and dynamic to this show.
Director Lisa Rafferty mixes the comic and dramatic moments together wonderfully while music director Kaley Sullivan shines with her orchestra. Act 1 is more upbeat while Act 2 is more somber except for the hilarious "Turn Back O Man" by Amy Fichera and the joyful and exuberant "We Beseech Thee" by Tim McShea. The dance numbers once again captivate the audience with their intensity. Choreographer Jason Hair-Wynn plays Jesus this time around while Jake Robertson plays John the Baptist and Judas. Jason is an imposing figure as Jesus. His charisma shines through from the first moment he appears onstage as well as in his first dynamite song "Save the People" which wins thunderous applause. Jason has a fantastic singing voice and dancing capabilities. The most powerful number he does is "Alas for You" where he chastises the sinners. Jake is superb as John with Prepare Ye as he enters the theatre through the audience. His powerful tenor soars in this number and throughout the show. And as the enigmatic Judas, he and Jason stop the show with their comic duet "All For the Best" with Jason doing a soft shoe and Jake and the others a vaudeville style dance.. Also the betrayal scene is stunning, too. Jake is a swing in this show and has performed all the other male ensemble roles. Hope to see him in a leading role someday soon. Some other outstanding moments on my return visit are Angela Richardson's scat ending to "Day by Day", Nicole Van Laan's gorgeous soprano voice and the high C at the end of "Learn Your Lessons Well" and the comic antics of Thomas Koen are hysterical. (He needs to become a stand-up comic or get his own cable network sitcom.) Bravo to the whole cast on a dynamite job which leaves the audience and me in tears at the close of the show.