Over-Due Theatre’s ‘Godspell’ Loaded with Talent

 

With its high-energy and stacked-with-talent cast, Over Due Theatre Company’s production of “Godspell” blew the roof off the Olivette Community Center.

This is not your run-of-the-mill church-friendly “Godspell.” This must-see show is full of jaw-dropping performances, with the cast displaying their tremendous vocal power from the start, setting the standard in the opening Prologue “Tower of Babble,” which went into “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.”

The nearly a cappella opening grabbed me immediately and the ensemble continued to impress, soaring through the Stephen Schwartz score with their four-part or more harmonies, control and clear, pure vocals.

The five-piece pit band, led by music director Michael Blackwood, smoothly complemented the cast’s pitch-perfect sound, which filled the auditorium.

“Godspell” has been an audience favorite since its off-Broadway debut in 1971, and 40 years later, a Broadway revival included “Beautiful City,” a song from the film, and took advantage of newer technology.

Over Due used the 2012 revival version, which offers a similar modern take on the parables from the playwright’s source – the Gospel according to St. Matthew. John-Michael Tebelak wrote the spoken parts of the original.

Co-directors Bekah Harbison and Wayne Mackenberg emphasized modern technology, adding social media and incorporating “Selfies,” which were projected onto a screen. Music videos were fun and effective visual aides.

The screens helped make the funny moments better and amplified the meaning behind the more crucial and important messages the show delivered.

Benjamin Sevilla was an effective Jesus and preached amiably to everybody – on stage and in attendance. He led the cast through parables that taught lessons of unselfishness and purity of the heart. In “Save The People” his voice, paired with the band, set the pace for both himself and the rest of the first act.

The ensemble was a tight-knit group who clicked together, and they each had their moment to shine. MacLean Banner showed such strength in “Day By Day while Sarah Polizzi showed off her comedic skills, getting riled up often before she spoke.

Dennis Folwarczny’s deep, booming voice was well-suited for the dual role of John the Baptist and Judas, which stood out and made a positive mark when the traditionally softer tune “On the Willows” became a forceful hymn that was felt just as much as it was heard.

The show’s tech work was solid, as every word could be heard, and they kept the vocals in check with the orchestra, which was loud at times. The lighting, designed by Ryan Young, played a big role in punching up more upbeat songs and setting the mood.

The cast’s collective level of talent was outstanding, making this “Godspell” one to remember.

Over Due Theatre Company presented “Godspell” March 9-11 and 16-18 at the Olivette Community Center. For tickets or more information, visit overduetheatrecompany.com

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