Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Godspell was originally conceived, written and directed by John-Michael Tebelak as his Masters Thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University in 1971. Schwartz wrote the music and new lyrics for some of the songs which had been taken from the Episcopal Hymnal. Additional music and lyrics for the song "By My Side" were provided by Peggy Gordon and Jay Hamburger.
Godspell opened off-Broadway on May 17, 1971 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. It then moved to the Promenade where it ran for 2,124 performances. On June 22, 1976, the show finally opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre, and it played an additional 527 performances.
Soon after the opening of Godspell, Schwartz wrote music and lyrics for Pippin, The Baker's Wife, Working and The Magic Show. At one point Godspell, Pippin and The Magic Show were all running on Broadway concurrently. Schwartz went on to write the lyrics to Charles Strouse's music for Rags and music and lyrics for Children Of Eden. He later collaborated with composer Alan Menken on the scores for the Disney animated feature Pocahontas, for which he received two Academy Awards and a Grammy, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He also provided songs for DreamWorks' first animated feature, The Prince of Egypt, for which he won another Academy Award for the song "When You Believe."
The Main Street Players' production of Godspell is in keeping with the evolving nature of this show, made current with comedic pop culture references. Only a simple set and minimal props are called for, and the show works best in a small theatre such as this. The costumes are eclectic and campy. Most importantly, they have brought heart to a show that is oft times served as sloppy and saccharine.
David Salih sets the tone with clear pacing and sincerity as Jesus. His words have weight as they are spoken without theatrics and self-aggrandizement. Michael Torok sometimes looks distracted as both John the Baptist and Judas. Though regrettably under pitch on "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" at the top of the show, he vocally redeems himself in "All For the Best."
Each of the remaining cast members has a moment to shine. Some are more polished than others, leading to some unevenness in this strong ensemble piece. Cindy Pearce's voice in "Day By Day" is strong and sure. Elita Denowitz deliciously flirts her way through the show, making eyes at nearly every male in the audience. Marissa Leon passionately sings "By My Side." Rick Pena lacks vocal maturity in "All Good Gifts," but sings the difficult duet "On the Willows" nicely with Josh Dobarganes. This point in the show marks the physical death of Jesus as he bids farewell to each character; the tearful delivery of the cast at this moment is most touching, and was responded to in kind by the audience. Making an audience laugh and cry in the same night is what good theatre is about.
Godspell ran April 7, 2206 - April 23, 2006 at the Main Street Playhouse. The theater is located at 6766 Main Street in Miami Lakes, FL. Godspell marks the first step for The Main Street Players to create their own resident Professional Company at the Main Street Playhouse. Under the working title of "Synergy Theatre Company" they hope to work cooperatively with the Community Theatre of Miami Lakes to create high quality entertainment in their current space providing a flexible stage configuration with a 90-seat house. For tickets to future shows or information on their season, call 954/ 675-6421 or contact them on the web at www.mainstreetplayers.com.