A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW
The Alhambra Theatre opened its 2019 season with “Godspell,” which will be on stage through February 10th. The theatre is located at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit alhambrajax.com or call 904-641-1212 for reservations.
The musical, which has been around since the seventies, ran in New York for over five years. It became a popular choice for venues throughout the states and abroad; the Alhambra staged previous productions in 1985 and 1990. A 2012 revision changed the staging but kept the same wonderful songs. In case you were wondering, the title “Godspell” is an Old English spelling of “gospel” – the “good news” made known to man
There have been many different approaches to “Godspell,” ranging from broad comedy to insightful retelling. The Alhambra’s current version presents the lessons taught by Jesus as reported in the Gospel of St. Matthew with both humor and appreciation. The ten fantastic actors, all of whom have marvelous voices, are dressed in contemporary clothing which includes colorful tee shirts, slacks and sneakers. Be prepared for other modern references – think Facebook, cell phones, Kevin Spacey, Trump and Shredded Wheat.
Set Designers Dave Dionne and Ian Black have built a set representing a popular megachurch, while Lighting Designer Daniel Dungan and Visual Effects Designer Mike Kennedy have produced a fantastic light show using the walls of the church. We loved the flood of streaming white light which illuminates several appearances of Jesus.
Timothy Michael Quinn, who appears in the featured role of Jesus, is making his Alhambra debut. This is not his first appearance in this role: he has previously portrayed the character in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Markus Mann appears in the dual roles of John the Baptist and Judas; he is an Alhambra veteran doing his sixth show on this stage.
And the additional cast members who appear as followers of Jesus? They are young, attractive, and agile dancers with boundless energy. They have excellent singing talents, and everyone seems to have at least one solo moment. They include Rico Lastrapes, Michael Taylor Robinson, Joey Swift, Heather Knopp, Victoria Elizabeth, Katie Nettle, Kaléa Leverette and Olivia Chernyshev. Jamie King and Thomas Nightingale are the understudies for all roles.
If you like different styles of music – Broadway, pop, folk, rock – you will love this fast-paced show filled with life lessons. Favorite songs include “Day by Day,” “We Beseech Thee,” and “On the Willows.” A song added to the original script by composer Stephen Schwartz is “Beautiful City,” which has lyrics filled with hope for the future.
The Production Staff includes Tod Booth (Producer-Director). Shain Stroff (Chorographer & Stage Manager), Cathy Murphy Giddens (Musical Director), Bryce Cofield (Assistant Stage Manager), Rico Lastrapes (Dance Captain), The Costume Crew (Costume Designers), Eric Sullivan (Sound Designer), Linnay Bennett (Sound Operator), and Patti Eyler (Properties).
Next up for the Alhambra is the Jacksonville premier of “Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical” which opens on February 20th. Of note, the theatre had to turn away some 8,000 patrons who wanted to see the 2018 production of “Elf, The Musical.” By popular demand, “Elf” will be returning for the November – December 2019 show, and yes, they are currently accepting reservations. Additionally, if you plan to see “The Little Mermaid “ (June 12 – July 28) or “Mamma Mia” (August 7 – September 15), better make reservations now as both will probably be sold out before they open according to Alhambra’s Managing Partner Craig Smith.