Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Robert E. Lee High School Godspell

By • Nov 17th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

“Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord.” The cast of Godspell at Robert E. Lee High School did just that through their intriguing rendition of the musical based on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Written in 1970 by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak, the musical opened off-Broadway the following year and later moved to Broadway and various touring productions and was well-received by countless audiences. Following the Gospel of St. Matthew, the story of Jesus is told primarily by an ensemble acting out parables from the Bible. Their skits are interspersed with songs and Jesus’ narratives.

Not following a traditional plot line, the cast presented every song well. They remained engaged throughout the show, jumping into each song with renewed strength and energy.

Connor Smith, as Jesus, lead the show without overpowering the ensemble. He had a strong voice and firm presence. Kevan Olson, as John the Baptist/Judas, never lost focus. Both were featured in “All for the Best” with good timing, both vocally and choreographically.

In such an ensemble-centered production, it is crucial to have a strong group capable of carrying the show. Each featured ensemble member had a solo, and each was an important part of the overall product. The cast adjusted well to the different moods of each song, from calm to rock and gospel.

As each ensemble member taught their parable, they had their own featured song. Memorable songs included Christine Swengros‘ “Learn Your Lessons Well,” Johanna Olson‘s “All Good Gifts,” Sylvia Boateng‘s “Turn Back, O Man,” and Luke Hartman‘s “We Beseech Thee.” All four had strong voices and established characters. “Light of the World,” featuring Kyle Daileda, ended the first act with the entire cast engaged in song.

The show was set in a post-apocalyptic world, with all of the action taking place in a fallout shelter. The single set fit the cast well, and was versatile enough to adapt to all of the parable skits. The ensemble’s distressed costumes, all created by Sarah Wheeler, fit well with the setting. Despite a few technical glitches, the stage was well-lit and lighting transitions were smooth.

Presenting a very different type of musical, the Godspell cast delivered an exhilarating show.

by Alyssa Glomb of TC Williams High School

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