Review: Gospels brought to life in 'Godspell' at Purcell Marian

Hippies, nerds, cowgirls, and rainbow suspenders: all can be found in Purcell Marian High School's production of the musical, "Godspell". The musical follows the parables and teachings of Jesus Christ written in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. With colorful costumes and sets, toe-tapping songs, and bright characters, Purcell Marian captured the heart and energy of this iconic show while bringing their own fanciful flare to the stage.

What started as a book and small production written and led by John-Michael Tebelak at Carnegie Mellon University, Godspell has become a lasting success on Broadway with several following revivals. The show is unique because the music is more modern, while many of the lyrics are based off of hymns. The show itself is open to creative interpretation, specifically in the way the actors dress. Jesus and his disciples are most commonly dressed in clown costumes. The show opens with quotes from both Christian and atheist thinkers, followed by the baptism, and ministry of Jesus Christ told through the dramatization of parables.

Purcell Marian High School had a lively cast who carried the excitement of one parable to the next, from inviting audience participation to dancing across the stage. Each actor and actress made the characters their own, connecting personal emotions with the values the parables teach.

Jesus played by Cian Steele, led the show from one moment to the next. His ability to express pure compassion to the rest of the cast playing the disciples was genuine. He embodied the wisdom and character of his monumental role in the best way possible: creating a tangible picture of parables and making them real and applicable.

The rest of the cast magnified the energy on stage in a style unique to their character. Tyler Hausfeld began the first song in the show as John the Baptist, and then becomes Judas as the show follows the life of Jesus. All the other cast members kept his or her personal names as character names, following the traditions of Godspell. Cassidy Steele, playing Cassidy the disciple, contributed greatly in dramatizing the parables, adding delightful comedy to the group. Meg Tobin, playing Meg the disciple, sang a beautiful rendition of the show's most popular song "Day by Day."

Staying with tradition, Jesus wore clothing with rainbow designs such as a rainbow beanie and suspenders. The rest of the cast wore everything from a fairy costume to a sparkly silver vest, adding fancy and excitement to the atmosphere. The set was painted in different colors along the edges and included a metal fence for the dramatization of Jesus' death. Though the set never changed, it provided a creative backdrop since the script provides no specific setting.

Purcell Marian High School combined the classic music, high energy, and parables that make "Godspell" an iconic musical while adding their own improvisation and heart. The cast and crew bring the essence of parables written hundreds of years ago to life again, physically portraying the message of Jesus Christ in one more memorable way.

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