My prayers were answered with Godspell

Review by Paul Nelson


THERE is nothing in the theatre more satisfying than a professional show staged with the panache and talent it deserves. Godspell is exactly that.

It's hard to believe that the show was first seen in 1971, both here and in New York and from the outset, it is clear that the entire rethink, by director Scott Schwartz, has embraced the new century with love.

Starting with a computer-based sequence, during which the entire parameters of the audience's vision becomes a vast PC screen, the stage bursts its seams with excitement. This is followed by a breathtaking set change when, reminiscent of the arrival of the space ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the set rises into the air and turns over to become the lighting grid for the action of the play.

The first 15 minutes of this show are sensational, and from then on it doesn't let the momentum founder.

The evening proceeds along its expected lines except for some very modern interpolations and up to date television jokes both aural and visual.

The cast takes the entire show in its stride and conveys such a sense of joy by not only entertaining us and knowing they are in a stunning show, but also by being in this particular show.

The result is so exciting that the thrill of both the musical and the message of the gospel combine lifting the spirits of the audience. If there is one show I have seen this year that must not be missed under any circumstance this is it.

The director is the son of the composer and his originality is further complemented by additional music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and some genuinely glorious choreography. Everything about the production is remarkable and it is not surprising that the audience refused to let the cast leave the stage at Wimbledon Theatre.

Godspell based on the Gospel according to St Matthew. Music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by John-Michael Tebelak Directed by Scott Schwartz. Set Lighting Design by Hugh Vanstone. Choreography by Dennis Wonder, Projection Design by Jon Driscoll & Richard Overall, Costume Design by Patricia Grant, Sound Design by Gareth John Owen, Arrangements by Alex Lacamoire. WITH Adam Boland, Clare Buckfield, Nicki Daley, Christopher Duncan, Isabella Jade Fane, Daniel MacPherson, Clare Sundin, Natalie Tapper, Daniel Thomas, Jonathan Wilkes. Swings: David Barrett, Jessica Pendall. Presented by HM Tennent Ltd in association with The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse at Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon. 020 8540 0362.