At 1001 W. Roosevelt
Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by John-Michael Tebelak
Music directed by Alaric Rokko Jans
Directed by Tim Gregory
Thru September 26th
Running Time: Two hours and five minutes includes a fifteen minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
It’s a dark and stormy night. A group of young people have taken refuge in a deserted warehouse. And suddenly… Jesus Christ! Not an expletive, it’s actually Jesus is in the (ware)house! Provision Theatre presents GODSPELL, the 1977 Tony-Award winning musical. Jesus Christ appears to a group of twenty-somethings to preach lessons of love, kindness and forgiveness. ‘Gospel’ is derived from the Anglo Saxon word ‘godspell,’ which means ‘good word.’ So, GODSPELL is the Gospel according to Matthew with a little Luke thrown in. Familiar parables, like the good Samaritan and prodigal son, are re-told by Jesus to a new generation of recruits. Later, the final days of Christ are re-illustrated by these contemporary disciples’ betrayals. GODSPELL is sixteen years of Catholic education squashed into two hours of vibrant and energetic song and dance. Provision’s GODSPELL is the greatest story ever told heightened to biblical proportions.
The 2000 year old biographical tale of Jesus had a 70’s facelift producing a modern chronicle in the original production of GODSPELL. In this current version, Facebook statuses, Japanese movies’ parody and rapping songs interject shots of Botox to freshen its youthful appearance. Under the combined influences of Director Tim Gregory and Choreographer Amber Mak, the lively cast bounces on and off stage with limitless vigor. Alaric Rokko Jones orchestrates poignant harmony in some stand-out numbers, including “Day by Day” and “By My Side.” Playing God, Syler Thomas (Jesus) balances the humanity and divinity with a WWJD portrayal. The entire cast plays hard as a tight and colorful ensemble. They seem to be genuinely having fun together just hanging out which makes solo moments of song bursts that much more powerful.
GODSPELL is all about a crash course in Christianity. Not surprisingly, it’s heavy duty preachy. Puppets, a live band, flashy costumes make the Sunday school lesson a little less stuffy. Other than a cultish moment of kool-aid sharing at intermission People’s Temple style, GODSPELL is an entertaining Jesus 101 course with memorable music to help See thee more clearly, Love thee more dearly, Follow thee more nearly, day by day…
Also a bi-product of Catholic school upbringing, Bill describes the show with ‘long live God.’
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
We choose to prepare ye the way of the Lord with a pre-show nibble in neighboring Pilsen. Simone’s, 960 W. 18th Street, is an eclectic bar with cozy booths and artistic recyclable furnishings. The ambiance is fun and unique. The televisions above the bar are showing a black and white version of the movie “Lost Boys.” The menu is upscale bar food and I order up the honey mustard chicken on a pretzel roll… thank you Jesus! Tasty! Bill opts for the blue cheese stuffed burger which seems more ‘on top’ than ‘within’. Simone’s boasts an environmentally friendly venue from solar panels to the featured wine of the month that hails from an organically committed vineyard. Doing our eco-part, we order the Cotes du Rhone. Our baptism experience converts us to Simone’s followers and puts us in the perfect frame of mind to receive the good word.