Washington-Lee High School GodspellBy Cappies • May 18th, 2010 • Category: Cappies
“Prepare Ye” for a roaring good time at Washington-Lee High School, where the members of the Spring musical cast of Godspell delight the audience and take them on a lively and interactive musical adventure through the Gospel of Matthew with larger themes of Christianity.
Godspell was first written in 1970 by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak, and opened off-Broadway in 1971 after having first been performed at Carnegie Mellon University as Tebelak’s master thesis. The show rocketed in popularity due to its liveliness and radical approach to the exploration of Christianity. It has seen several revivals on and off Broadway, as well as around the world. The fluid style of the script allows for insertion of numerous pop culture references and modern jokes, which Washington-Lee’s production took advantage of.
Washington-Lee’s Wes Horton played an amiable and compassionate Jesus, lighting up the stage with his almost constant focus on character and attention to other characters. Nate Kresh also had a commendable turn, in a difficult juggling act, as both John the Baptist and Judas. In addition, the characters of Elana (Elana Crivella), Zoe (Zoe Bellars) and Shahenda (Shahenda Helmy) –-all members of an ensemble referred to as their “real-life” names–brought exuberance to the production.
The ensemble maintained a fairly high level of energy throughout the piece, though commitment to one another and to even pacing wavered. In the penultimate scene, however, there was a drastic change of both tone and pace that brought the cast to life in a deeply emotional and stirring rendition of the Crucifixion.
Numbers that stood out included “Day By Day,” performed by Anne Donnelly, and “By My Side,” performed by Caitlin O’Grady and Emily Mathae. Both songs employed beautiful vocals with the addition of the energetic company. Though there were some issues with sound, soloists in these numbers were clearly understood.
Lighting and set design were two technical components which stood out in positive ways. Cues for lights were executed smoothly, and the lights themselves were set to match the mood, tone, and intensity of scenes, while the set provided a dynamic and visually interesting backdrop to the show. The glow-in-the-dark components of the set especially contributed to the psychedelic, modern take on the gospel.
Overall, Washington-Lee produced a very enjoyable musical piece; it was clear that the cast, as it should be, was very satisfied with its spiritual, theatrical journey.
Claire Withycombe of Yorktown High School.
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