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THE SECOND COMING IN HORNCHURCH

May 20, 2014

GodspellI WAS never a hippy, not with my hair and hay fever, but I did not fully appreciate the ‘word’ until it came to Hornchurch this week.
Matt Devitt’s unbelievable adaptation of Godspell is the best thing I have ever seen at the Queens Theatre.
In the right hands, it had everything that spins the pure magic of life changing theatre, an art that still astounds and has taken me 42 years to fully understand and appreciate.
With music by Stephen Schwartz and script by John-Michael Tebelak,
Godspell started life as an American college project performed by students at Carnegie Mellon University.
Opening off Broadway in May 1971 and at the Roundhouse Theatre in Chalk Farm, London in November the same year, the show certainly rattled more then a few windows.
DEB-Godspell-1971 posterBased on the parables, it seemed a strange subject for young vibrant entertainment in a world that was rife with protest and raised voices.
The dawning age of freedom in thought and actions did not require conversion to any creed, but needed understanding, and that was what many missed by turning away from Godspell.
It came in the Mod/Rocker era of my late teens, filling the air and hair with flower power linked substances like religion and white powder.
You either shoved the Gladiola up your nose or used your sleeve and I chose the latter, even after seeing David Essex starring at the Roundhouse in ’72.
Maybe my early 20s were still tinged with the austerity of post war Britain, and the shared responsibility of making a way in a new world, but it passed me by.
Well I have certainly caught up with it now.
This production has the maturity of age and the addition of divine talent and understanding, something that I think was lacking before.
The music alone, ‘Day by Day’, ‘By My Side’ made a great splash, but I was not alone in not seeing their significance.
It has taken two outstanding rock musicians, Matt Devitt and Julian Littman, a Stella cast of ten actor/musicians and the Kander and Ebb inspired choreography of Donna Berlin to deliver what was missing all those years ago.
This show is alive and bubbling and is a total personification of an era long gone that was not fully understood and deserved this treatment.
Sam Kordbacheh and Sean Needham were excellent in the Ying and Yang of Jesus and Judas.
Both were exceptional in their acting and stage craft, contributing so much to the total and absorbing experience that made this show so special.
The refining edge came from their Cut to the Chase colleagues, Ellie Rose Boswell, Georgina Field, Sarah Scowen, Callum Hughes, Sam Pay and making their Queen’s debut, Patrick Burbridge, Megan Leigh Mason and Deborah Hewitt.Godspell
They collectively set the stage alight with singing, dancing and musicianship that sent the senses spinning and reviewers showering adjectives like eggs in an elegant soufflé.
I have loved this theatre for more than three decades, and this is why.
There is always an unexpected surprise waiting behind the curtains.
Godspell runs until June 7 with tickets available from the box office on 01708 443333.
If ever there was a show not to be missed in Hornchurch, this is it.

Pictures by Nobby Clark and poster designed by David Edward Byrd

 

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