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November 7, 2011

The No. 1 Reason To See: Godspell

by Jesse North

godspell broadway revival poster hunter parrishA cast of cheery, gifted singers gathers to deliver the most inoffensive religious musical in the revival of Godspell. Stephen Schwartz’s 1971 musical, based on the Gospel of Matthew, strings together parables told by Jesus (played by Hunter Parrish) and his followers with pop-rock songs. The result is an evening of hippie-era, free-love glee and tunes that will weave in and out of your consciousness days later.

The No. 1 Reason To See Godspell: The staging at the Circle in the Square Theatre
Producers often circle Broadway houses like vultures, waiting to snatch up a home for their show. While there usually are numerous candidates, the Circle in the Square Theatre and this revival of Godspell are a match made in Heaven. This in-the-round venue facilitates the show’s communal feel, in which the actors often break the fourth wall with the audience. The space is appealingly designed by David Korins, with chandeliers hanging well into the audience space and a stage that conceals a bunch of technical surprises. (How many tricks are under those floorboards??) David Weiner’s lighting design baths the space in energetic carnival tones one scene, then turns the theater into a celestial twilight the next. What really separates this Godspell from the ubiquitous regional and community theater productions is Daniel Goldstein’s direction, which takes unique liberties to constantly surprise the audience. The characters wear hip, modern clothes (beautifully designed by Miranda Hoffman). They use cell phones, to comedic effect. The revised book is littered with pop culture references, which never fall flat. The audience can even come on stage during intermission and share a small cup of (free) wine with the actors (yes, free). Goldstein’s vision of Godspell has created one of the most joyous and personal theatrical experiences on Broadway.

Godspell lottery policy: A lottery drawing is held 90 minutes prior to each performance for a chance to buy up to two tickets per person for $30 each. Entries are accepted two hours prior to the performance. Winners who purchase tickets are seated in one of four quadrants that surround the stage and seated on cushions.

godspell broadway revival hunter parrish

Photo: Jeremy Daniel

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