"Godspell" is a Thrilling and Beautiful Collaboration from City-Rep and UCO

Elizabeth Hurd Modified: October 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm •  Published: October 2, 2013

Not so long ago, when we were young a surprising hit came out of the Theatre Community.  “Godspell” originally conceived and directed by John-Michael Tebelak.  One of the aspects of the hippie movement, often overlooked, but never forgotten by the lovers of the world is love.  Most of them talked free love, but they all espoused unconditional love.  Much like the events of 2,000 years ago when Christ showed us that love as we learned from the Gospel of St. Matthew.  So, “Godspell” is not only the simplified story of Jesus and his disciples from the Gospels, it is the story that love brings happiness to all who live in love.  “Godspell” is a story we all know from Sunday school, and the feelings are always forgotten in day to day living until we are reminded with kindly force.  This updated version has Music and New Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.

Jonathan Beck Reed is a fabulous actor and he always makes it look so easy.  It takes a lot of hard work and talent behind the scenes, but Reed always has fun on stage, even if his character is miserable.  So, as the Director of the rejuvenated “Godspell” on the Freede stage at City-Rep, Reed endows an entire cast with his dedication and enthusiasm.  City-Rep is collaborating on this production with The University of Central Oklahoma’s Department of Musical Theatre and many members of this exciting young cast are UCO students.  They are talented and dedicated hard workers, but they are also having lots and lots of fun.  So does the audience.  They are displaying the essential key to success in the theatre and in life.

Lane Fields as Jesus is having a whale of a good time.  This makes his Jesus the kind of man one wants to follow.  Jamard Richardson is having fun, and his ultimate disappointment is extremely believable because of this. Lexi Windsor is having a wonderful time displaying her wonderful voice. the audience joins in the fun.  Musical Direction is by Charles Koslowske  the directing a great band.  According to the program the remaining ensemble cast is comprised of UCO students and recent alums.

City-Rep should be lauded greatly for working with and bringing to the fore this pool of talent.  They have given this troupe a great gift with this production because they exhibit a level of professionalism to the production that comes only from fun and loving the work that makes performance real.  These ensemble cast members have a great future in theatre and life and they are:  Dia Janae Baker,  M SCaleb Baze, JaLeesa Beavers, Ashton Cleer, Jordan DeBose, Cody Dent, Chelsea (Nikki) Clark, Sarah Johnson, Chelsea Larsen, Vahn Phollurxa, Phoebe Butts, Garrett Haley, Megan Montgomery and Emily Pace.

While some may not prefer this somewhat over-simplified version of the show and the events, the essential story of love as the powerful force it can be negates any minor criticisms.  The excellent technical properties from set to sound to costumes and light serve the production magnificently.

In the program Jonathan Beck Reed gives us his Director’s Notes:  “As we sit gathered here together today…side by side in this darkened theater, we all have a need to love and be loved.  No matter what our ‘worldly’ protestations to the contrary may be…this is an unavoidable truth.  We all want to belong to a community.  To be enlightened and spiritually lifted.  To embrace something requiring a faith beyond what we can know with our senses.  To sing beautiful music…to laugh and smile and learn.  At our core, devoid of the box we carefully build over the years to protect us from the world which can sometimes seem so harsh, we are all children.  Children who yearn to be welcomed and warmed by the unconditional acceptance of those who make no judgment, but see in us something of themselves that bonds us together in a unique and powerful way beyond definition.  Such is the magic of GODSPELL.                                                                         ……………………………………………………..Jonathan Beck Reed

Great words from Reed, but one must experience his success with all the senses.  “Godspell” runs through October 6, 2013 at the Freede Little Theatre in the Civic Center Music Hall.  The show starts at 7:30 rather than the usual, almost universal 8:00 pm time slot.  This is a great benefit for parking!!!  Visit www.cityrep.com or call 405-848-3761.  How often does one get to have a great time and uplift the soul?  Every performance of “Godspell”!!!

 

 



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