Godspell

Date 17th November 2016
Society University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society
Venue Council Chambers
Type of Production Musical
Director Madeleine Brooks
Musical Director Matthew Quinn
Choreographer Sharissa Lee

Report

Author: Rhiannon Symonds (on behalf of Kevin Proctor)

If there were only two words to describe the University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society’s performance of Godspell it would be these: high energy! The Council Chambers of the Student’s Union are small and shabby from the outside but the unique idea of setting the musical in a festival tent works perfectly for this space and indeed the show.

Director Madeline Brooks’s passion for this show is evident, as not one line had been left without thought. The first character to stand out on stage is without doubt the phenomenal energy shown by Becca Hatch, who is nothing short of a whirlwind on stage, and a voice to match! Though Aine Mallon has a quieter physical presence on stage, her incredible upper register makes her a real star to watch. Though the first entrance of Dom McGain as Jesus is somewhat underwhelming which seems, as the show progresses, to be more of a character choice - portraying the calm of the Son of God with a clear message of peace. And whilst we mention the overt religious message of this show, it is worth giving UMMTS praise for handling a musical about religion in such a light-hearted, yet respectful way.

The halves were perfectly balanced; while we saw the raw energy from belters Aine, Becca and Anuli Changa in the first half, with hilarious physical comedy from Tom Carswell in the parables, the second half’s sombre atmosphere was beautifully reflected by the rich, velvety ballads from June Lau and Catriona Darroch, making an audience grateful for Georgia Brown’s raunchy and comedic performance. There is not one weak cast member, which is a pleasant surprise for a university society.

Hopefully it was a result of nerves, but the lighting let down the cast a little at this performance, by being quite often late to changes, and occasionally blinding the audience with certain backlight angles. However, the concepts added to the show wonderfully and showed a clear symbiosis between the creative team. Musical Director, Matthew Quinn, further expressed this. Although the band were visible and he had to direct some changes, nothing was obtrusive and the band themselves were well rehearsed, tight and produced a great sound.

UMMTS are also putting on ‘Guys and Dolls’ in a fortnight, so a fear would be that ‘Godspell’, being a lower budget show, would be neglected. This was absolutely not the case; this cast evidently adored the project and brought so much emotion to their performances that there was not a dry eye in the house at Jesus’s betrayal and crucifixion. It’s a limiting script, in the sense that the first half is just a collection of parables and mindless worship, but the cast are so passionate that any weaknesses in the form and structure of the script are allayed.

It’s a show I would not necessarily see again through free will, but I would gladly watch UMMTS perform again.