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FRANKLIN, NJ—Never having seen Godspell in a theater, this reviewer happily finds himself every half decade or so in a church waiting for the most recent update of Stephen Schwartz’s accounting of the first book of the New Testament.
The current 2012 version includes hip-hop, references to iPhones and a short parody of the Big Bang Theory, and is set in an abandoned New York City house of worship. Most recently, the popular show played to sell-out crowds at Middlebush Reformed Church in Somerset.
Unlike its contemporary—Jesus Christ Superstar, a passion play that accounts the life of Jesus from the perspective of Judas Iscariot—Godspell, a kinder and gentler musical remains faithful to Mathew’s gospel and takes us from John’s baptism of Jesus to the crucifixion.
Considering the limited theatrical resources of a church, one would expect this production to have something of a low bar. Not the case.
A high level of energy, solid choreography and strong vocal performances made for a spirited night of theater.
Under the good direction of CJ Carter, who also performs, Dylan Coker as Jesus, and Rafael Lozada as both Judas and John, led a fine ensemble cast including: Angie Francese, Sydney Wade, Kristen Welsh, Jillian Patla, Ricky Francese, Eva Michaylin and Kristen Seggio.
Keeping in mind this production was a fundraiser for a charity and staged in a church, it was impressive how the cast and crew utilized the resources available to them and presented to their audience a Godspell that could have been staged at any one of the noted community theaters in our area.
This rendition of Godspell finished its run on September 27. For more information about Middlebush Reformed Church, visit http://www.middlebushreformedchurch.com/.