Prior to the stunning musical Godspell (Act I of the musical), December 4th to 6th, artistic director Chickie Hughes and cast, prepared themselves with a little help from above, in prayer.
Re-enacting Biblical parables in ways that any person who is of faith or non-faith can understand and enjoy, this epic performance by an amusing cast of characters brought the audience at The Church Of The Rock at 1397 Buffalo Place to tears with laughter and joy. It’s easy to see why Godspell is one of the most successful Broadway musicals in history.
The musical began with everyone facing the back of the stage where they are lost without a community. Jesus calls the group together, creating this desire to spread the word of God around the city producing an environment of love.
Jesus the “Steam Punk Leader” (in his red costume), assisted by John The Baptist, helps form a community. The community is baptized, throwing off their old garbs and putting on the new. Jesus hands them neck pieces and they later become his disciples who follow his teachings. They are then tested by Jesus in their “Steam Punk” garb, inspired by Victorian England where one’s individuality transforms into something new and expressive.
The commoners form a community where Jesus introduces various parables and teachings, such as, don’t steal, an eye for an eye, the story of the unjust judge and the widow, how God is merciful, the Pharisee and the tax collector, the good samaritan, when you do a good deed it comes back to you (karma), learn your lesson well, lilies of the field, where your thoughts should be as they are pointing to God, and prodigal son in which the father literally throws his heart out in this puppet show.
These, and many other hilarious acts, were jaw dropping, knee slapping teachings delivered in ways that anyone could understand; parables for all to enjoy in a non-threatening way.
There were accents of many kinds in this comedic musical which had the audience clapping and laughing. Musical numbers included: Turn Back O Man, Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord, Save the People, Day by Day, Learn Your Lesson Well, Bless the Lord, All for the Best, We Beseech Thee and Light of the World.
Playing Jesus for the second time, Colin Loepp said the cast gelled well. “There is synergy on stage and gives energy for everyone to experience,” Loepp said. “A lot of work has gone into rehearsal and energy is released on stage allowing everyone to be energized. It is a play about community bringing everyone together and includes all the races and colour — it’s something Jesus taught as a message and makes the world a place of harmony.”
Colin Egg, who played Judas and John the Baptist, commented, “This musical brings people in to see what Jesus is about. This play reaches all the common people and explains (it) in a way that they can understand.”
Susan Korstrom (the blonde haired lady) who played Robin, a disciple, says that when she saw Godspell at the age of 17, “It changed my life, and introduced me to the nature of God and who we are.” Korstrom has been a church worker for about 20 years.
Manfred Wadien played along as a fool and was very comedic. He said that he was “the odd man out” and the musical “brings the parables to life with a message in a fun way.”
Amber Anderson who played Joanne with her bright red hair, was not shy, but rather carefree and joyful in a childlike way, delivering an important message. She said, in doing this musical, “the verses now have a different meaning for me.”
One of the disciples, Andrea Loepp, has been performing 27 years with her mom Chickie as the director. She enjoys the development of community with Jesus. “Jesus is teaching disciples how to be Christians using the parables,” Loepp said.
Rock Art volunteered their time to build and design the set, a work of art, with intricate detail. Many volunteers worked long nights, paying attention to detail with costumes making sure the musical was done on time.
Makeup and hairstyling were very effective in the process of transforming the actors into their characters. It was beautiful how it all came together in such a positive environment. Many involved were thankful for all the hard work done by the volunteers of Rock Art, the cast, the choreographer, musicians, and many other people who contributed to the production being so successful.
In his closing remarks, Mark Hughes thanked everyone involved, and he invited the public to participate in any of the Christmas celebrations during the season.
Based on the Gospel according to Matthew, Chickie said, “Jesus brings the disciples together” as a community. Each year they bring in a different play or musical. Last year it was a “straight play — a western called, Fussin’ an’ a-Feudin’.”
This musical brought a community of actors together, who formed a community with Jesus on stage, in turn forming a larger community, including the audience, that was filled with merriment and acclaim.
This was truly an inspiring presentation of amazing local performers who helped kick off the Christmas season with the kind of laughter you haven’t experienced since you were a child.
Godspell is a must see ground breaking performance. If you get the chance to see the musical live, or maybe find a copy of it on line, it could change your life, especially if you are going through some difficult times.
All photos by M LeBlanc