Godspell

Date 7th March 2020
Society Erewash Musical Society
Venue The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton
Type of Production Musical
Director Richard Dawson
Musical Director James Bowden
Choreographer Abbi Burns

Report

Author: Martin Holtom

This is the first time I have seen Godspell as a stage production and I am delighted to say that Erewash’s talented ensemble cast, band and production team made it an event to remember.  

The Wikipedia entry captures the essential structure of the ‘Godspell festival’ - “a series of parables, primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew, interspersed with music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns” – but it was EMS’s interpretation, featured artists and simple effective setting that used the whole auditorium as a performance space, that brought this show to life.

Although Godspell is very much a high energy ensemble production its success relies, in no small part, on the strength and versatility of the central performance of Jesus and here Adam Roberts judged his performance to perfection.  With endless twinkling eyes, energy, humour, pathos, flashes of anger and a coat with apparently an endless supply of props…   Adam brought a sympathetic, slightly anarchic twist to all the bible parables with effortless audience engagement that made his eventual sacrifice in the holy week journey all the more hard-hitting.

The ensemble nature of this production was the other great strength being warm-hearted, humorous, supportive, enthusiastic, kind, dazzling, gentle, empathetic, warm, adorable, bubbly, genuine, joyful and thoughtful.  The overwhelmingly positive performances, with every cast member supporting each other on stage, delivering great vocal highlights including individual, duet and full chorus numbers clearly doesn’t happen by accident and the work done in the rehearsal room by Abbi, James and Richard was clear to see.

It was very refreshing to see a performance space used so fully without being “just for effect”. The multi-coloured full-length steps leading to the stage shattered any barrier between audience and cast.  A simple yet effective set with a small number of fully working props provided the festival ambience (without the smell thankfully), and the entrances from the aisles in the raised seating, portaloo and bar area coupled with the interval entertainment all completed the immersive experience.

The show was completed with subtle back projection and sympathetic lighting, costuming was very much of the period and sound balance was excellent throughout.  It’s always great to see the use of an on-stage band and thanks to James and the sound design they never overpowered the vocal performances and provided some great virtuoso work when called upon to deliver.

This was a highly enjoyable all-round production, energy and enthusiasm to the max with great delivery and I look forward to seeing more like this from the Erewash team in the future.

Martin Holtom