A total modernized and powerful version of the 1970s classic musical Godspell is now on stage at ACT ( A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut) in Ridgefield Ct. It was our first time seeing a play at this theater and we spellbound by this incredible production. If you see only one play this year, make it Godspell at ACT.
The original production of Godspell which opened in 1971 off-Broadway and the 1973 film of the same name was a lighter play with the characters dressed in colorful period clothing. The story features Jesus in a modern setting with his disciples (though given different names), and the story follows parables from the New Testament which teach the lessons of forgiveness, charity, kindness to all, and that man must worship God and not money. These lessons can be appreciated by anyone of any faith or background, and seem even more relevant today.
Artistic Director Daniel C. Levine was given permission by the show’s creator, Stephen Schwartz to revise Godspell and cast it in a new light. Levine has brought Godspell from 1971 to 2020 and in the process created a powerful and moving production. The play opens in an abandoned church in Manhattan that where some homeless have taken refuge. Enter the developers and realtors who reveal that this old magnificent structure will be demolished to build high priced condos for the wealthy. They care not for the church nor its purpose as they discuss the price of these condos to be built and brag about how the building is 90% sold. Suddenly from the ruins of the church, Jesus appears to transform the greedy and to open their eyes to his lessons. The stage design of the abandoned church is magnificent with its Gothic pillars, and stained glass windows which creates the perfect mood for the play. Levine was inspired to set the musical in an abandoned church after witnessing the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris. Reid Thompson who is the scenic designer helped bring a Broadway quality set to our backyard and in doing do brought Levine’s vision to fruition.
The score from Godspell is memorable and includes such favorites “Day By Day”, “All the Best”. “Light of the World”, and from the film, “Beautiful City”. The sound is professional and some of the best and clearest we have heard at any theater. Credit goes to Sound Designer John Salutz and his talented team. The vocals are outstanding with great performances from the entire cast.
The story is not all heavy, as lighter comedic moments are part of the show including satirical references to the President as well to Harvey Weinstein. The cast also interacts with the audience playfully, and even leaves the stage to move about the theater. During the intermission the actors appear and begin to mingle with the audience while still in character. This was effective in really allowing the attendees to feel immersed in the story and not a passive observer.
The cast was brilliant and even included an ensemble of children actors who make brief appearances as they represent the innocent and the future of us all. The cast of actors have numerous Broadway, off Broadway, National Tour and regional credits. It was an evening of wonderful performances with Trent Saunders (Jesus), Jaime Cepero (John the Baptist), Shalen Harger, Jacob Hoffman, Katie Ladner, Alex Lugo, Andrew Poston, Monica Ramirez, Phil Sloves, Morgan Billings Smith , Emma Tattenbaum-Fine, and Cameron Nies.
We were totally mesmerized by this stunning new interpretation of Godspell. It is a show for us all and so relevant today. The show runs through March 8, 2020 and it has to be on your must see list.
ACT A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut
36 Old Quarry Road
Ridgefield, CT 06877
Box Office: (475) 215 5433
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