Story by Tina Vlamis
A bright spotlight illuminates the back of the otherwise pitch black auditorium, driving the audience’s attention to Patrick Vogel, singing, ‘Prepare Ye Way of the Lord.’ He captures the audience with his committed performance, and sets the tone for the rest of the show.
The first act of Godspell is cheerful with characters adorned in vibrant, colorful costumes singing happy songs about the teachings of Jesus. One of these songs, ‘Learn Your Lessons Well’ was charmingly performed by Lily Fontaine, who both sang and played ukelele.
This show is interesting in the sense that it does not have any named characters besides Jesus, who was played by Robert Weiner, and John the Baptist/ Judas, who was played convincingly by Pat Vogel. Everyone else played a follower of Jesus or an apostle, and was referred to by their real first name onstage. This direct recognition on added a personal element to the show. There were several times over the duration of the show in which actors broke the fourth wall in order to engage in some humorous interactions with the audience.
Marie McVeigh, who gave a hilarious and entertaining performance as a promiscuous character, had to flirt with a few audience members during her solo, ‘Turn Back Old Man.’ Her character also had ongoing interactions with Charles Bethin, who delivered his lines with quick wit. Katie Steinbacher earned the audience’s affection when she took center stage and began rapping about one of Jesus’ teachings. Kylie Souiler’s amazing voice was highlighted at several times during the production.
Although the first act was a flurry of busy joy, the second act was mostly somber, as it was about the crucification of Jesus and the days leading up to it. Robert Weiner did a phenomenal job of signaling this transition. In the first act, he lit up the stage with his charisma and joy, but in the second act he portrayed the urgency and stress of Jesus in his final days. The incredible bond the cast has with both Weiner and each other made a particularly sad scene in which Jesus’ apostles are saying their final goodbyes to him, that much more heartbreaking.