Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Godspell Gone Wrong

So the plans changed and I went to see Godspell last night with Thomas at the Boilerroom. I knew nothing about the show, save what I researched online yesterday: It was written by Steven Schwartz (the same guy who wrote Wicked, Pippin, and other shows that I am curious to see/hear) (yes, I was CUR-ious!!!), the show is based on the gospel of Matthew, and is set at an amusement park. The production is very free form, meaning that each director has a lot of leeway with the set, costumes, and how the cast plays their parts, enabling them to add current jokes that the audience would get, and play on their strengths as comedic actors.

This particular cast was hilarious, but almost too-overbearing in their numerous add-libbed one-liners so that sometimes the story was lost, even for someone like me who was familiar with all of the stories they were portraying. A person who did not immediately recognize the Biblical teachings would have an even harder time following along at some points.

The majority of the show is Jesus teaching various parables and then the other actors acting them out. This production even used a finger puppet show to tell the story of the Good Samaritan, and the parable of the seed and the sewer with the cast pretending to be seeds, rocks, and weeds was particularly funny. Also the story of the prodigal son was heightened with the use of various accents to the characters of the father, sons, and servants.

For the crucifixion Judas strapped Jesus onto a big carnival wheel, and spun him around while a strobe light added dramatic effect. This scene was very powerful, as I had wondered how they would approach the passion in an amusement park setting. However, the biggest shock came at the end of the show, with Jesus’ death. The cast carried him off, and then moments later they all ran onstage for their curtain call. I sat there stunned.
"What?? There’s no resurrection?!" I said incredulously to Thomas. "How can you have a production about Jesus and leave him dead? The resurrection is what makes Jesus, Jesus!"
All of a sudden what I had felt was a great ministry tool, and so appropriate to do at this time of Easter, I felt had been cheapened to a secular, worldy view of Jesus being a nice man, and a good teacher.

Mike has preached on this before though. You can’t say that Jesus was a good teacher but not the son of God or the Messiah like he claimed to be. Because then Jesus would be a liar, and what good teacher lies to his students? Godspell ended where I feel it should have began. I talked with one of my friends afterwards who was in the show and she said that in some productions they opt to do a reprise of one of the songs, and bring Jesus back on, but I am still disturbed that this wasn’t written in the show to begin with.

So other than the upsetting ending, I liked the show. I am eagerly anticipating learning more of Steven Schwartz’s music, as he has become one of the most prolific composers of musical theater in the past few decades. As a self-proclaimed theater nerd (or just a nerd in general- take your pick) I have really slacked off on my knowledge of current hits and composers, so we’re presently trying to rectify that. We're also trying to sell choral music to churches and bookstores. It's difficult living this double life sometimes!

Happy Spy Wednesday- the REAL name for today's Holy Day leading up to Easter.

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