Pacifica Spindrift Players “Godspell” Soars
Pacifica Spindrift Players’ current production of the musical Godspell is full of such good fun, good singing, inspired stagecraft, a great score creatively adapted by the cast and the production team, and something that you don’t get in every musical—a message. “Godspell” is an archaic spelling of gospel, here cast in modern music and dance, and more than a little free-form improv.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no preaching here, even though Jesus (Darius Rose) has center stage here, of course. He shares it with John the Baptist, Abraham, characters from Biblical parables and Greek mythology, and latter-day flower-children.
There are plenty of laughs, and the most memorable music in the uplifting first act. Almost every song is a show stopper, from the gathering of philosophers lost in their own ideas in the hilarious “Tower of Babble” that opens the show, through Calypso’s (Jenna Smith) stunning performance of “O, Bless the Lord My Soul” and the charming vaudevillian soft-shoe take on “All for the Best.”
There are three “swine” on the stage for a few minutes, but everyone gets a chance to ham it up. There’s an inspired bit of parable in the form of a sock-puppet show. The entire cast is onstage the whole show, and everyone in the ensemble—more than I have space to mention here—gets a turn in the spotlight. A live band secluded onstage accompanies the singing. It’s a happy production.
It turns somber after the intermission. Those who know the real story know what’s coming. The party’s over. Judgment is at hand, temptation waits in the wings, a failure of faith, betrayal. The music sets the mood, especially the touching “By My Side.” Judas has been an edgy character on the stage throughout the show, and here we see the complexity that John Espejo has brought to the role. “On the Willows” puts us at the scene of the crucifixtion. The industrial scaffolding that has been part of the stagecraft suddenly takes on a new and deeper meaning. The lesson here, repeated in so many ways throughout the show, is or could be the framework on which we build our own lives: Love your neighbor.
Through March 31. Box office: 650-359-8002
Pacifica Spindrift Players website: http://www.pacificaspindriftplayers.org/
David Hirzel website: http://davidhirzel.net