Covedale Opens the Season with Rapturous ‘Godspell’
Posted On June 23, 2017
Review by Doug Iden of Godspell: Covedale Theatre
Halleluiah – Godspell has exploded onto the Covedale stage to inaugurate the new season. The show is joyous, boisterous, exuberant and, for a least three-quarters of it, pure enjoyment. Godspell does not use conventional theatrical storytelling but, rather, tells the story of Jesus through a series of biblical parables, each accompanied by a song. The extraordinary music of Stephen Schwartz propels the story with spiritual songs including “Prepare Ye”, “Day by Day” and “Light of the World” with the poignant and sorrowful songs “By My Side”, “Beautiful City” and “On the Willows”. This is also a very funny show, especially in the first act. Halfway through the second act, the tone changes abruptly as the crucifixion approaches. Both the songs and the acting change accordingly. Godspell has been updated somewhat with new rap numbers and many new contemporary references while retaining the original score.
The ensemble cast is youthful, exuberant and entertaining. They must be exhausted after a performance because the entire cast is on stage for the entire production and is singing and dancing continuously. Each cast member introduces one of the songs and is eventually accompanied by the entire cast. Overacting in this show is a virtue not a vice.
Kyle Quinlivan excels in the role of Jesus with a high energy performance, good singing in both the boisterous and melancholy songs while projecting the necessary magnetism of his character. At times, Quinlivan is the primary actor/singer and, at times, another member of the ensemble. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exemplary person in the remainder of the cast so kudos to Peter Cutler (Judas and John the Baptist), Allison Bredestege, Corey Miller, Kelcey Steele, Anne Schneider, Royce Louden, Savannah Slaby, Ashley Colbert and Cortni Nicolaci.
In the past, I have been critical of the lighting at the Covedale but, in Godspell, the lighting actually helped propel the story. In one scene, the ensemble uses hand lights on a darkened stage to illustrate the “light of the world” and in another, the use of red lights symbolize the blood of the crucifixion while obliterating a red heart on a banner which represents love very effectively.
Music Director Xan Jeffrey’s orchestra played well and allowed the singers to be heard. Director/Choreographer Maggie Perrino moves the show along briskly and has created a tone which the ensemble embodies well. The dancing is simple but very energetic and effective.
The opening night audience was very appreciative of the performances and I think that you will enjoy it as well. Godspell continues at the Covedale Theater through October 2. Tickets are available at the Covedale website, http://www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/ccpa/.