Director Maggie Perrino isn’t shy about the fact that she’s worked on GODSPELL before, mentioning that she’s been involved in the production at least three times, each with different focuses and messages. Her message in the original 1971 script of the Covedale Center’s GODSPELL focuses on the love that comes from kindness, utilizing the parables of St. Matthew to demonstrate.
Maggie and crew demonstrate that love is essential to the modern lifestyle, that focusing and learning love are changes and challenges to the modern person. With strong, female vocal performances, the show overall is colorful, energetic,and perfect for young families and grandparents. GODSPELL is known for allowing improvisation during performance, and the cast performs wonderfully as an ensemble that supports individuality.
GODSPELL, as a play, is a tall, tall order for the theatrical community. The entire first act is an energetic re-telling of common bible school parables, especially when paired with a cast as young as those portraying GODSPELL at the Covedale. The political setting and undertones are entirely unrepresented in the story, and the essential revolutionary spirit of a philosophical movement is missing. This hugely discredits the potential for a Jesus story, especially one with strong focuses on a modern experience.
Is Goodness ‘good’ enough? Of course not. Modern love is much more complicated - love is gritty and often sad. “Good Love” is tough and involves sacrifice. Godspell touches on these themes, textually, but doesn’t do it behaviorally in any way that rings differently than church-teachings. Enlightenment is relatable through hardship, and the disciples in GODSPELL - without motive or purpose - effortlessly convert to the teachings of an impish Jesus. There is no villian in this Godspell, the second act blowing through Jesus’ struggle to crucifixion, re-counting the temptations and doubts the Bible already tells us he lived through.
There are moments of endearment in the show - Jesus’ forgiveness and the gratitude of a jezebel in “Day by Day,” are touching. The betrayal of Jesus also lands truthfully, another triumph attributed to the honest and earnest cast.
Despite the strong efforts of Perrino, cast, and crew - which include replacing the religious cross with a large heart and encouraging modern slang and humor - the overtone in GODSPELL of Christianity and guileless faith impede evocative, theatrical storytelling. Modern day perspectives varying as they do, that makes this show either an incredibly safe, or incredibly daring season selection for the Covedale in Price Hill.
Godspell, A Musical based upon the Gospel According to St. Matthew.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz; Conceived by John-Michael Tebelak.
Maggie Perrino Director/Choreographer; Xan Jeffery, Music Director; Holly Davis, Production Stage Manager
Presenting Sponsor: Arnold and Mary Jo Barnett
The cast includes: Anne Schneider (Gilmer), Peter Cutler (Judas/John the Baptist), Corey Meyer (Herb), Royce Louden (Jeffrey), Kelcey Steele (Lamar), Kyle Quinlivan (Jesus), Allison Muennich (Sonia), Savannah Slaby (Joanne), Ashley Colbert (Robin) and Courtni Nicolaci (Peggy)
Running at the Covedale Center for Performing Arts September 8th, 2016 - October 2nd, 2016