The intent of John Michael Tebelak, the original mind behind
Godspell, was to bring out the “joy and humanity” of Jesus. In order to make Jesus live in such a way,
every cast and crew that performs it must use their imagination and creativity
to make Jesus the man of joy, alive within their time and culture. From the outset, CYT attempted to do just
that by first deconstructing Godspell before reconstructing it around
the Jesus they know. Their final
product delivered brought Jesus to life in the 21st century in a
From the opening solo of Judas (Kevin Wright), it was
clear this was not your grandfather’s Godspell. This was Jesus living in and confronting the
issues of today. Kevin sang this first
solo in a strong yet chilling way, bringing in high emotion from the
beginning. The dancers also helped
throughout the play to bring home each message in a powerful way. Danny
Hochstatter brought Jesus to life with his warm smile and easygoing
presence. He made you feel like this is
a person you would like to hang out with.
Throughout the play, Jesus looked up into the sky as if looking to God.
He gave you the feeling there was constant communication between them. He also shows great compassion to his
companions, the children and others around him, even the Pharisees. His voice is strong and pleasant.
The cast of disciples each brought different gifts to the
stage, helping to make you both laugh and cry.
John the Baptist (Matt Silar)
did a great job of bringing the disciples to the water while he sang and
baptized them. His humbleness as he
baptized Jesus was very realistic. Also, playing his character in hobo like
clothes put a great touch on his character.
A number of times a background of Stomp-like beats using drums,
cans, brooms etc. helped to set the stage for the next song. Sam (Beth
Chapius) sang a lovely version of Day by Day. Her character, as well as the other
disciples, were all very individualistic, and they each came off as Totally
Devoted Disciples of Jesus.
As various parables were told, humor was used as well as
some very touching moments. One of the
disciples brought in her “theatre friends” to help with the Good Samaritan
story using different songs and costumes from other musicals to tell the
story. The Good Samaritan himself was a
Sam’s Club worker whose line was, “I’m here to help.” Tamera (Kathryn Madigan)
sang O’ Bless the Lord, My Soul.
Her voice is very soulful, strong and she sang with amazing sincerity
and feeling. Her dancing is also
amazing – even adding a little break-dancing.
All For The Best was a show-stopping duet by Jesus and Judas, and
the dancers again really helped to make this scene. The dancing in this musical was some of the best around. With
such an awesome stage to work with, dancers were on three levels and in the
aisles during many of the songs. The
choreography was stupendous. I enjoyed
Mia’s (Olivia Bus) voice as much as
the rest. She had a great presence when
she sang, and danced beautifully as well.
The scenes with the young children were very touching. They sang and danced with Jesus and looked
like they loved every second they had on stage, as if it was real time with
Jesus. Zander (Pete Almeida) showed off his skills of comic delivery in his
portrayal of the rapper/Prodigal son.
Brynn (Jane Layoff) also
showed her adeptness in comic relief in the parable of Lazarus and the rich
man. In her dancing as well as her
acting, she showed fantastic stage presence.
Her singing is phenomenal. She has a strong clear voice and sings with a
haunting tone perfect for the songs she did in this musical. While on stage, her facial expressions
actions helped to make her a disciple you wanted to be like.
This show ends on a positive note where Jesus comes
walking down the aisle from the back of the theater to greet his disciples
after he has been crucified. Their
looks of pure joy and excitement truly let you know you have seen a miracle. The audience was captivated throughout the
entire musical and gave the remarkable cast a standing ovation.
Performed May 11-20, 2007.
National Youth Theatre
~ Cast ~
Jesus: Danny Hochstatter
Zander: Pete Almeida
Mia: Olivia Bus
Sam: Beth Chapuis
River: Dominick Davis
Brynn: Jane Layoff
Tamera: Kathryn Madigan
School Teacher: Melissa Scheele
John the Baptist: Matt Silar
Cheyenne: Hannah Smith
Judas: Kevin Wright
Kady Lou Annen
Yenitza Castillo Tristani
Emily Paige Turner
Director: Karen Gronowski
Music Director: Rachel Rilko
Assistant Director: Naomi Rogers
Choreographer: Marina Sterner