Written by Tabitha Rice. Media by Ben Isaacs.
The Factory Theater’s latest production, Godspell, is a magnificent blend of the timeless teachings of Jesus and modern culture. Godspell is a collection of parables, mostly from the Gospel of Matthew, including three from the Gospel of Luke. It started as John-Michael Tebelak’s thesis for his master’s degree before Stephen Schwartz adapted it to musical theater.
The Factory Theater performed Godspell back in 2005. Doug Pritchett, this year’s director, was also involved in the 2005 performance. Godspell’s versatility in set design, costumes, and general performance allowed Pritchett to put his own spin on this production. In the musical’s bulletin, Pritchett wrote,
While [the lessons and teachings of Jesus] are important, it is the formation of community that is the real story of this show. Throughout the games and parables, we see each of the players decide to follow Jesus until they all come together as a cohesive group.”
The play focuses on relationship with one another and community between Jesus and His disciples. Each character is a real person with likes and dislikes and good and bad qualities. Jesus loves all of them despite their shortcomings. You’ll surely be able to identify with at least one of the characters if not the entire group at some point in the play.
The cast has an excellent community within itself and the audience. Several times throughout the play characters enter the stage from the audience as well as go out to them to sing. Additionally, Jesus, portrayed by Justin Langley, pulls in audience members to help reach His disciples where they are at. Langley portrayed Jesus as a warm, loving teacher and friend to His disciples, telling them how to treat other people and live as children of God. However, Jesus is also painfully human as we see Him pray to God and deal with the Pharisees. Joshua Baker. an audience member, observed,
A lot of productions about Jesus focus on how He’s the Son of God, which of course is extremely important to understanding who Jesus is. Godspell, however, shows Jesus as the Son of Man, which is not only what He called Himself, but also a lot more relatable to people.”
Jesus’ humanity contributed to the emotion near the end of the play.
When it comes to music, Godspell has something for everyone. The lyrics are classic hymns while the styles and genres are more modern. From “The Tower of Babble” to “On the Willows”, Godspell enchants you and gets you rocking along with the cast as they clap and sing. Although, beware, some songs might bring about teary-eyed audience members.
Godspell runs this weekend from Thursday the 9th to Saturday the 11th, their final performance. Doors open at 7 PM and the show begins at 7.30 PM. You won’t want to miss this magnificent blend of a modernized story that Christians base their faith on. It tells the story of Jesus’ friendship with His disciples, and His disciples’ continued desire to “see [Him] more clearly, love [Him] more dearly, and follow [Him] more nearly.”