How do you bring a classic 1970’s contemporary musical into the 21st century? You “reimagine” it. That way, hopefully the musical receives new life while still being contemporary and relevant today.
Godspell Reimagined hits the bullseye.
I remember seeing the live performances back in the 1970’s. It was light hearted, bold, yet gentle, with a simple message told through simple stories, along with a type of innocence. The music carried the show, with hit songs like ‘Day by Day’, ‘Light of the World’ and ‘By my Side’.
Godspell Reimagined, ticks all the boxes and more.
This production has succeeded by using the principle of “Less is more”
Rather than having a stage full of performers, usually at least 10, along with a full band of 8 or more, this production has a total ensemble of 8 multi talented performers: 4 actor-singers and 4 musicians. At times, some of the actors-singers become musicians and all of the musicians become actor-singers. This develops a real sense of community.
The less is more principle is continued into other aspects of the performance, with very clever staging and props, lighting and improvising of spotlighting.
The production is co produced by Simon Myers (Man In Black – The Johnny Cash Story) and Glenn Elston (Walking With Spirits). Elston also brilliantly directed this production.
This production is very engaging with the audience. There is plenty of good on-trend comedy. I was fortunate to be sitting next to a very cool young man called Chet, he will be 6 in a few weeks. There was no doubt that he, like I and the rest of the audience, were enjoying the interaction, the comedy and the music.
The musical director Lucy O’Brien has done a fantastic job in bringing all of the music and songs to life, staying true to the original, while also executing the modernizing adaptation’s made by Stephen Schwartz, including the very clever parts and crossovers found within “All for the Best”
The casting of this ensemble was simply brilliant. They captured the innocence, the community and the simplicity of what is Godspell. Christopher Southall (Jesus), Mark Dickinson (John /Judas), Bonnie Anderson and Louisa Fitzhardinge all blended well and complemented each other, while at the same time had opportunities to highlight their well crafted skills.
The musicians, had nowhere to hide. They, like the rest of the ensemble, were on the stage all the time. Lucy O’Brien (Keyboards), Sam Jones (Base), Nick Robinson (Drums) and Ben Yarrum (Guitar) can not only play well, they also cover many different styles of music, along with singing, which is kind of natural for musicians. It was very impressive to see that these musicians can act, such is their talents.
Special Guest, Colleen Hewett, is just simply wonderful. Her stage presence and voice had people out of their seats. Godspell was such a bit part of her early career not only performing in the 1971 Australian original cast, but also with her recording of ‘Day by Day’ which became a gold record smash hit.
Not only was it a delight to once again see Hewett perform, it was a real treat, to listen and clap along with her singing ‘Day by Day’.
Godspell Reimagined is running for a short season at the Fairfax Studio Arts Centre Melbourne till 6th November 2016
Both matinee and evening performances.
Total Score 4.5