Godspell

The musical is based upon the life of Jesus as described in the Gospel according to St Matthew, with parables from St Luke’s Gospel also included. The musical was first produced in 1971 and has since appeared in numerous productions around the world. It has also been made into a feature film. This production is by Campion School from Athens. This is a British-style International School, whose pupils come from over forty countries. Children in this production come from Greece, Holland, Germany, Italy, USA and other countries, but all speak and sing fluently in English (initially, I assumed they were all American).The text of the musical does not say where it is to be set so productions often have unusual settings (such as a junkyard or museum). This production takes place mostly in modern dress, with no location explicitly stated.The performance begins with the company entering and taking the role of various philosophers throughout the ages – Socrates, Sartre, Nietzsche etc. They sing about their various philosophies, first individually and then at the same time (The Tower Of Babble). John The Baptist calls them to order, sings Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord with the company and baptises them all.Jesus then appears and asks to be baptised but John instead asks Jesus to baptise him. Jesus explains that he is there not to baptise but to save the people. He then teaches the company in a series of sermons and parables, interspersed with musical numbers. The parables all acted out in original and amusing ways. The parable of the good Samaritan is performed with puppets and that of the prodigal son is also particularly well done and very funny.Ultimately, of course, too many powerful people are upset by the teachings of Jesus and Judas betrays him to the authorities, leading to his crucifixion. After his death his body is carried off the stage and the performance ends. This is an extremely good production. The cast are all very enthusiastic and lively and clearly enjoying every minute. The singing is good, particularly in Prepare Ye The way Of the Lord and Day By Day. Godspell is not meant to taken totally seriously and this achieves the right blend of music and humour without losing the message.Special mention must be made of Thomas Jansen, who plays Jesus. He dominates the stage for every moment that he is on. His acting and singing are excellent and he has a kind of other-worldliness which makes him just right for the part.Very enjoyable and highly recommended.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

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The Blurb

Great songs, stories and spirit - funny, touching and unpretentious: this delightful young cast from Athens, Greece, spread the love of the enduringly popular Stephen Schwartz musical through pantomime, puppetry and charades. Ideal for all ages, faiths and humours!

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