Teaching an old play new tricks

No two performances of Stephen Shwartz’s 1971 musical “Godspell” are ever alike. The success of the show hinges on the creativity and improvisational skills of its cast.

This past weekend, the College’s Opera Theatre brought its interpretation to four performances at Kendall Hall, and while many audience members may have seen “Godspell” before, this version was certainly a must-see.

“I really enjoyed how they modernized it,” Lili Daniel, sophomore communication studies major, said. “I think it was really well cast.”

The musical combined the Gospel of Matthew with modern music styles and a highly energetic ensemble cast.

Throughout the performance, the cast was constantly moving, singing and dancing in a way that could even exhaust the audience. There were many times the cast came off-stage to sing in the aisles.

As much fun as the show was for the audience, it was even more fun for the cast.

“Most of the time, we were just really laughing onstage,” Lisa Lombardelli, junior music education major and one of the soloists for ‘Learn Your Lessons Well,’ said.

While the show had its fair share of pop culture references, the cast didn’t rely too heavily on such things. Rather, the obvious camaraderie of the cast was what made the show a success. There are very few shows where the entire cast can be a part of such an important ensemble, and not one performer held the group back.

As with any proper treatment of a musical, intense and exhaustive rehearsals were crucial to making the show turn out right. However, to the cast, the time together was well spent.

“The story of ‘Godspell’ is about community,” Claire O’Brien, cast member and senior communication studies major, said. “Community is what the show became for all of us.”

Many of the people in the audience on opening night were familiar with the show but were nevertheless enthralled.

The fact that the show differs with each cast’s interpretation was a big draw.

“It’s one of the best versions (of ‘Godspell’) I’ve seen,” Mackenzie Esch, sophomore biology major, said.

Dave O’Brien, senior business marketing major, just saw another group perform “Godspell” but still wanted to see the Opera Theatre show.

“We liked it so much that we decided to come see it again,” he said.

“I really like the music, and all versions of ‘Godspell’ are different,” O’Brien added.

“Every time you see the show, it’s different,” Lindsay Coleman, sophomore English major, said. “There’s plenty of room for improvisation.”