Godspell (Review)

80 high schoolers are the power source for a night of adolescent verve

Jul 27, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Godspell is typically a musical that uses a small cast and charms audiences because of its intimate storytelling of parables from St. Matthew’s Gospel, Stephen Schwartz’s tuneful score and other inventive, often amusing twists. That spirit prevails over the 28th annual Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre’s (CYPT) staging of the show at Covedale Center for the Performing Arts.

But with 80 or so kids of high school age onstage, this production is more like Godspell on steroids and many of the songs are performed using most of the cast. The approach taps into a power source that makes this Godspell great fun to watch.

Director Tim Perrino knows how to marshal teens, but don’t expect a lot of sharp focus. This Godspell is more about getting everyone onstage and drawing on their adolescent verve and innocence, even if they’re enacting cultural icons from earlier eras that Perrino had to educate them about, like the Keystone Kops or Leave It to Beaver. Sitting in an audience of friends and family, it’s easy to get swept up in the kids’ enthusiasm.

There is some fine individual talent to watch, especially Paul Kubicki as the radiant, effervescent Jesus, who’s the happy ringmaster of this “Cirque du Filleul” (that’s French for “godchild,” in case you’re wondering). He’s surrounded by 12 disciples, all with fine voices and several with acting and dancing skills that project well in the cavernous Covedale space.

Emily Schuster’s “Day by Day” is beautifully delivered, Amberly Winfrey vamps through a sultry “Turn Back, O Man” and Scott Dittger’s voice is sweet and pleasant for “All Good Gifts.” I especially liked the vitality Tommy Boeing brought to the dual role of John the Baptist and Judas — like Kubicki, he’s a charismatic performer.

CYPT is a community asset, giving talented kids a chance to broaden their horizons and providing pleasant summertime entertainment.

GODSPELL, presented by Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre, continues through Sunday at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts . Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.