By Kassandra King of Francis Howell
Sunday stories of Jesus and his disciples are often colored in different ways, but few of them include tie-dye and glitter.
In their recent production of “Godspell,” Francis Howell North gave a new take on religious tales. Withstanding centuries of interpretation, the Gospel of Saint Matthew serves as the basis for “Godspell.” Conceived by John-Michael Tebelak with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, “Godspell” is a series of musical parables conveying the themes of love, peace, and goodness.
The story follows Jesus as he attempts to teach ten individuals the meaning of treating other people with kindness and spreading morality throughout the world.
Spinning age-old fundamentals into the vibrant 70s, Francis Howell North impressed upon audience members the wisdom of the gospel.
Relaying the spirit of the Lord and entrancing audience members was Jeremy Hyatt as Jesus. Hyatt’s natural presence carried the show as he maneuvered through the cast and set pieces. He demonstrated his vocal dominance in, “Alas for You,” and gave strong emotional range as he was put to death.
Creating tension with Hyatt was his betrayer, Sam Scopel as Judas. Scopel showed depth while meticulously conveying the weight of his actions. Scopel also portrayed John the Baptist, showing a dynamic mastery of the space.
Standing out from the ensemble was Brittany Burke as Sonia. Burke had effortless energy and exuded confidence as she created chemistry with her fellow cast members. Burke’s jazzy tone was accented in her solo, “Turn Back, O Man” which resounded with the audience as a pitch perfect number.
Comedically stealing the show was Brock Birkner as Herb. Birkner had a quirky physical presence which brought out the campiness of the piece. Illustrating the soft side of the progression was Tori Hanke as Robin, leading the cast in “Day by Day.” The company came together in their impressive end to act one, “Light of the World.”
Aiding the energy of the cast was the vivacious color scheme selected by all of the technical aspects. The set, designed by Matt Spak, Paige Jungermann, Sam Scott, and Eliessa Polhamus used creative color blocking and stood out with neon hues covering the multileveled platforms. Creative costuming done by Sidney Boden and Kaylee Waters reflected the 70s time period accurately and complimented the color palette of the paint selection.
Posing the challenge of relaying the word of the Lord while uproariously filling the theatre with laughter, “Godspell,” proved to be a chance worth taking for the players of Francis Howell North.
This review was submitted by The Cappies, a program that trains high school theater and journalism students as critics. The students then attend shows at other schools, write reviews and publish those reviews in local news outlets. At the end of the year, student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.