Commentary: Driftwood’s ‘Godspell’: See it!

By Patrick Hogan

Director Nathan Jeffrey has delivered a fantastic show to the Wade James Theater stage in Driftwood Theatre’s production of “Godspell,” playing through May 5.

“Godspell,” with music written by Steven Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak  opened off-Broadway in 1971 and has been produced somewhere seemingly ever since. The show, using the parables in the Gospel of Matthew, tells the story of the life and death of Jesus in song.  It gave us the 1972 hit single “Day by Day”.

In this current production, the cast works together brilliantly as an ensemble.

There is simple, well-executed choreography.

There are some beautiful, clear voices among the women in the cast.

Above all there is energy, energy, energy. The entire cast in on stage – or in the aisles of the theater – for almost every minute of the show, dancing under a disco ball, drumming on plastic five-gallon buckets, playing tug of war – and ultimately crucifying Jesus, of course.

The first act is filled with laughs and physical comedy and most of the well-known songs of the show.

Intermission stops the momentum and the second act takes on a different tone. For the death of Jesus, music director Mark Press has guitarist Joe Hinchy take over, to great effect.

“Godspell” is clearly among the best things I have seen at Driftwood in the year and a half that I have been seeing (and performing in) shows there. Coming immediately after the intense “The Hen Night Epiphany,” Driftwood is raising its own bar.

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