By Hope Baugh
In director Michael Dotson’s interpretation of “Godspell,” Jesus Christ walks into a neighborhood bar. The people are basically good, but they have forgotten something that used to ground them. Jesus starts telling stories, and soon, everyone in the bar is playfullysinging, dancing and acting out those stories.The stories are straight out of the Bible.
At some point, however, the people in the bar find themselves no longer merely sharing stories, but actually living out the story of Jesus’ betrayal and death.The subtle way the actors take the audience with them is quite powerful. I was not the only oneweeping near the end of the show.
I felt less moved by the ending itself, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I’m okay with its ambiguity.I can see why this show angered some Christians when it first appeared in the 1970s. It seems to leave out the most important part of the main Christian story: the resurrection.However, if this show is meant to help Christians contemplate the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian now that Christ no longer walks the earth as a man?” then it works as a Christian show.
This particular production can also be enjoyed as a secular piece by just about anyone. The professional singing, dancing and musical accompaniment are all polished and lovely.Brandon Alstott is a clean-cut, likable, boy-next-doorJesus, and Matt Patterson inspires compassion in his portrayal of Judas. The seven other members of the ensemble work together very well and shine in their individual solos. Music director BrentMarty and his onstage band sound great. Worcel’s choreography is witty and fresh.
Godspell” continues Wednesday through Sunday at the Studio Theater at The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Tickets range from $35-$40.