Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Godspell"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Shining Lights Productions premiere musical in the Marquee Room at the Stadium Theater is "Godspell". Based on the gospel of Saint Matthew, and featuring a score by Stephen Schwartz, "Godspell" brings the parables of Jesus Christ to life. It is the 2012 updated version. The show draws on various theatrical traditions, such as clowning, pantomime, charades, acrobatics, and vaudeville, the show is a groundbreaking and unique reflection on the life of Jesus, with a message of kindness, tolerance and love. "Godspell's" timeless message has always been about finding your quiet, unshakable faith amid a very cold, very shallow modern world. The comic and poignant moments are blended together wonderfully by Mike Landry. He assembles a ten member cast to fit all these roles while Ryan DeWolfe taught the music to the cast and plays lead keyboards and conducts the three piece orchestra. The choreography contains many different style of dances including soft shoe, tap and jazz. The show's reward is a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call.

Joe Morse stars as Jesus and is wonderfully cast in this role. He has a rock singer's voice that is terrific. One of his most powerful numbers is "Alas For You" where the words of the song till resonate today. "This nation, this generation shall bear the guilt of it all.Alas, Alas, Alas for you! Blind fools''. It rings true today as it did back in biblical times and in the 1970's when the show was first written. His first song is "Save the People" where the cast dances around him. However it is in the Last Supper tableau and the death that strike a chord with the audience, not leaving a dry eye in the crowd including mine. A new song written for the updated show is "Beautiful City" which is a ballad and is rendered marvelously by Joe. He and the whole cast give heartfelt performances in this topnotch show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The opening Philospher's section contains terrific harmonies and is excellently performed. Mike gives all his performers their moments to shine in this show. He adds an audience participation couple of times with pictionary and charades. The first act is more vaudevillian while the second act turns more somber after "Turn Back O Man". Adam Landry as John the Baptist sings "Prepare Ye" with his powerful gospel voice entering through the audience. He later on in the show becomes Judas making the transition from one character to another with ease. Adam and Joe stop the show with the comic duet "All for the Best" sung in counterpoint as they do a soft shoe puppet dance to it. It is hilarious and has to be seen to be believed.Day by Day is given a lovely rendition by Amanda Crimmins with her lovely voice as the apostles learn how to share with one another. Emily Garvin plays Socrates and sings "O Man of Athens". A group dance occurs as pretty Grace McLaughlin sings out "Bless the Lord". A rousing number is "We Beseech Thee" with a dynamite dance and lead vocals by Gian DiCostanzo. The betrayal scene is a stunning moment, too. "By My Side" is a dynamic and poignant duet by Emily and Amanda . Nicole Franklin belts out "Learn Your Lessons Well" with her powerful gospel voice.

Adam sings the tear jerking "On the Willows" during the last supper as Jesus says goodbye to each one of his disciples. My favorite comic song in the show is "Turn Back O Man". It is a show stopping number rendered perfectly by Becca Donald. She enters through the audience interacting with them.  She is hilarious as Dillon Tognacci is with many clever ad libs and also sings "You Are the Light of the World" to end Act 1. Nigel Richard 's voice soars off the charts in "All Good Gifts". He also sings "Learn Your Lessons Well" reprise to open Act 2. The whole cast sings "Long Live God" and "Prepare Ye" in counterpoint and in this new version they also sing the poignant "Beautiful City" in the closing segment. Ryan obtains superior harmonic balance from these talented vocalists. It is extremely poignant as Jesus is crucified. The show's ending will leave you emotionally drained at its intensity but uplifted because Jesus left us hope for the future. In these trying and tumultuous times who could ask for anything better for the world. So for a splendid production of "Godspell" be sure to catch Shining Lights Production's version in the new Marquee room at the Stadium Theatre

"Godspell" (11 - 19 April)
@ Shining Lights, Marquee Room, 28 Monument Square, WOONSOCKET MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide