The Presentation Secondary Transit Year staging of the rock and parable musical, Godspell, was a special and beautiful production, without the expensive show-bizzy glamour or the stage performance diva stuff. Director, Lupita De Bhail, took the piece back to its original 1970 roots when Episocpalian student John-Michael Tebelak, at Carnegie Mellon University, staged a no-frills and thoughtful piece of how to make the Bible interesting to liberated youth of the time. This was before Stephen Schwartz (who was a college friend of Tebelak) ditched all the songs, bar Day By Day, and rewrote a hit musical.
In this TY production, the honesty of the story and the characters reaction to such simplicity shone out with the unadorned truth of youth and the commitment to shared values within their community. Against a black wall, with some scaffolding, a functional light and sound rig and some inspired low-budget dayglo costumes and make-up, the audience shared in the exuberant, exciting story of a Jesus for the modern world and I was deeply touched by a shared emotional experience.
Kayleigh Green’s lines about Recession and Money and Ciara Kavanagh’s Spec-savers joke, struck a glorious chord.
Mark Scanlon as MD supported the cast with consideration and trust and Patrick Grant gave the Choreography focus and challenge.
From the outset Rachel Cody, as John The Baptist, caught the mood with a fine Prepare Ye and she was a mainstay throughout the show. Time and again in big chorus numbers, Natalie Rellis, Yemi Omotoso, Niamh Tebay, Shauna Walsh, Ciara Kavanagh, Amy O’Neill, Kerry Rochford and the elegant Cathy Arrigan, added pizzazz to the occasion.
Titlope Oladiti as Gilmer gave us a noteworthy Learn Your Lessons Well and her duet By My Side with Kayleigh Green was beautiful and heartfelt. Emma Giles shone in a series of roles and her Bless The Lord was a blessing indeed.
The cast erupted for All For The Best with Rachel Cody in excellent leading style. Sarah Crowley gave us a rap-style Law And The Prophets into Light Of The World and she revelled in the spotlight.
After the interval Sarah Weldon as Sonia gave the audience a treat with her confident, sassy, take-no-prisoners version of Turn Back O Man. Her foray into the audience as the Temptress was confident work. Ciara Kiely rocked the audience with an impressive ChickaBoom song into We Beseech Thee and throughout the show her many roles and characterisations added much to the overall impact of the story.
Kayleigh Green and Titlope Oladiti brought such an atmospheric mood of sadness to the occasion, with a meditative By My Side and the whole chorus deepened and made more emotional a Day By Day reprise with Leanne Wright and Shauna Walsh duetting on a beautifully sad On The Willows for the crucifixion of Jesus. This was an emotional highpoint and Leanne and Shauna excelled here.
But throughout the show Kate Nolan as Jesus in a white suit was splendid. Her Save The People and the seldom heard or used Beautiful City were special. Her acting throughout was positive and always in character and in her Alas For You she was memorable and I felt I had never noticed before what a beautiful and essential song this is to the show.
Other performers were: Aoife Condon, Caroline Creed, Leva Lengvenyte, Ann-Marie Keating, Jodie Robinson, Zinga Kilinga, Kellie Daniels, Lisa Rea, Shannen Brown, Aleemat Owalaye, Laura Fanning, Rachel Stott, Alexandra Muresan, Kate Bible, Amy Brazil, Kate Kiely, Sarah Dower, Niamh Cooley, Cara Fortune, Loren O’Brien, Sarah Kennedy, Shanoife Richards, Marie Robinson, Shani O’Sullivan, Danielle Murphy, Megan O’Rourke, Shauna Molloy, Emily Jacob.