Review: Spirited 'Godspell' Rocks The Peabody Opera House

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Ever since it opened off-Broadway in 1971, “Godspell” has been produced pretty much non-stop at high schools, summer stocks, professional repertory theaters and big national tours. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes not so much. The “Godspell” that rolled into town recently was not only one of the best, but the production was based on the 2011 revival, with a tweaked musical score that leans a little more toward rock ‘n’ roll. With the excellent cast, the show was a tornado of energy inside the beautiful confines of the Peabody Opera House.

Cast of Godspell Photo courtesy Peabody Opera House

Cast of “Godspell”
Photo courtesy Peabody Opera House

Created by John-Michael Tebelak with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, “Godspell,” based on the Gospel according to Matthew, is a series of parables illustrated through skits and engaging music. The talented cast handles the singing beautifully with many highlights. “Learn Your Lessons Well,” “Turn Back Oh Man,” and “Day by Day,” which reached number 13 on the Billboard charts in 1972, all stand out.

Cast of Godspell Photo courtesy Peabody Opera House

Cast of “Godspell”
Photo courtesy Peabody Opera House

The ballads were heartbreakingly tender, made so by the beauty of the vocals. The talented cast performs the musical numbers with aplomb, and there’s enough originality in their take on the parables—much of which comes from the actors in the rehearsal process—that the skits entertain when they can tend toward tiresome.

Cast of Godspell Photo courtesy Peabody Opera House

Cast of “Godspell”
Photo courtesy Peabody Opera House

Adele MacKenzie’s choreography is a bright spot with its own style and personality that added an extra level to the production. David Hogan’s direction is snappy and keeps the show moving. The current tour of “Godspell” is an entertaining, non-stop romp through a classic, unique American musical.

The next theatrical coming to the Peabody is another Broadway classic, “Man of La Mancha,” February 7-9. For more information, visit the Peabody Opera House website.

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