Review: Godspell @ New Theatre
Friday 16th April 2015
Between the great controversial mega-hit musicals, Hair (one of my all time favs) and Jesus Christ Superstar lies Godspell, a show fusing elements of both works, and causing much less chaos.
It holds the test of time and comes out fairly undated and left with some grand musical numbers. Oscar-winning composer Steven Schwartz has found much fame for Wicked and for his songs in Mulan and The Prince of Egypt, but here we see a blossoming example of his earlier work.
With an odd mix of bible stories, sassy songs and improv-like acting, Godspell could have easily been a convoluted mess. The Gospel of St. Matthew has some great parables (The Prodigal Son, The Good Samaritan, etc), which are brought brilliantly to life by an ensemble who must love their coffee and energy pills.
Some audience participation was nerve-wracking (my plus-one was scared) and I was so pleased not to be on stage like the two poor souls who were dragged up. Some jokes about the Welsh were standard, Yorkshire accents being a popular default accent for many of them and an unwanted fart joke all added to the bubbling humour and ramshackle presentation before us.
Tom Senior was a dashing, sensible Jesus, simply tied with red ribbons for his crucifixion scene; Robert Hannouch, a cute, loudmouth American sort. There was a heavy presence from TV singing competitions, with Andy Abraham from The X Factor signing in fine form as a super-ballad singer for Saint John the Baptist, Leanne Jarvis, fresh from The Voice, belting her heart out and dancing most provocatively with Jesus as Mary Magdalene. Mitch Miller (also from The Voice) would not be out of place on Glee, with his bow-tie, tweed trousers and braces (he sang with ease, also). With a great band and a helping hand from the two choirs taking part - Rechoir, the static choir and CentreStage Cymru, the moving choir - the evening was a loud, funky time and was well worth seeing.
Schwartz may not write musicals with every song a gem, but when he gets it right, it's golden. Prepare Ye, The Way of the Lord, Day by Day, Light of the World and Beautiful City (written for the film version and now features in the live show) were the glistening highlights.
I would say go and see it, but Godspell only came to us in Cardiff for a meagre two days. But try to see it on tour!
A blasting, biblical ride with much humour and pathos.
Recent reviews by Weeping Tudor:
- Cardiff University Symphony Chorus - Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil (Vespers) @ National Museum
- City Of Light Explore Day @ Cardiff University School Of Music
- Royal Opera House - The Flying Dutchman @ Cardiff Cineworld
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Image credit: New Theatre, Cardiff
Sub-Editor's Note: This article was slightly amended on Wed 22nd April 2015 at 11:53am following the below comments by Rechoir.