If you go see Creighton’s latest spring production, “Godspell,” you’ll discover a few new tunes to hum during class.
Creighton’s actors performed “Godspell” for a full house last Sunday in the Lied Center’s Studio Theatre. It is based on the Gospel of Matthew and tells the story of Jesus and his disciples in a unique and modern setting.
While many of us are already familiar with the story of Jesus and have spent countless hours in theology classes poring over the details of his life, the actors in “Godspell” reinvigorate the words of this famous evangelist through their energetic performance and their voices full of emotion.
“Godspell” combines beautifully sung musical numbers with some of the most famous teachings of Jesus Christ. Many times throughout the play the cast members act out parables, such as “The Sower and the Seeds” and “The Good Samaritan.” The show climaxes in the second act with a brief yet striking representation of Jesus’ passion and death, tying the entire production together with an onslaught of theological meaning and emotion.
Out of a cast of 16 actors, there are only three defined characters throughout the play: John the Baptist (played by Arts and Sciences junior John Gajewski), Judas (Creighton graduate Seth Shirley) and Jesus (Arts and Sciences junior Dan Tracy). The rest of the company play a variety of roles, such as the disciples of Jesus, Pharisees and Roman soldiers and characters from several of Jesus’ parables. While the rapid role switches throughout “Godspell” can be confusing at times, it keeps the show moving forward and creates a mood of excitement and anticipation in the Studio Theatre.
The small space afforded by the Studio Theatre may seem a strange choice at first for this musical production, but it worked quite well both for the acoustics required for the play’s musical numbers and the set of the show itself. The close quarters in the theater not only put audience members considerably closer to the actors, but it also magnifies their voices so that their words can be heard without too much difficulty.
The set also contributed to the success of the play, being detailed enough to suggest the dilapidated interior of an old, abandoned city building, but simple enough to allow for a wide range of uses during the various “plays within the play.”
Although the actors tell the story of a man who lived more than 2,000 years ago in Palestine, the characters’ costumes consist of haphazard combinations of modern-day attire, and the stage backdrop suggests a setting somewhere in an abandoned Manhattan building. Their energy is upbeat and almost childlike as they follow Jesus and learn important life lessons from him. The actors seem to blend almost completely with their characters, not only communicating the initial excitement and hopefulness of the first act but also leading the audience into their emotions of despair and fear at the end of the second act.
Claire Zelenkov, Nursing sophomore, attended the performance last Sunday, and called it “—fun, modern twist on the Bible and what it means to be a good disciple.” “Godspell” is a creative presentation of Christ’s message with bright musical numbers, making it an enjoyable and worthwhile show for audience members of all ages.