Sinclair Community College delivers a highly admirable production of composer Stephen Schwartz and librettist John-Michael Tebelak’s 1971 biblical musical “Godspell,” an upbeat, poignant look at the last days of Jesus Christ based on the Gospel of St. Matthew.
Incorporating fine musical revisions from the 2011 Broadway revival of “Godspell,” directly Kimberly Borst offers a sprightly, enthusiastic staging set within an urban playground excellently designed by Terry Stump. Borst’s breezy approach serves the insightful, parable-driven material well as her energetic 17-member cast delivers a consistent display of unified joy. The imperative example of diverse individuals of various backgrounds coming together to learn and grow from the teachings of Christ is evident here from the start with a strong version of “Tower of Babel,” crisply executed with fine assistance from Dan Brunk’s sound design capturing nearly every overlapping lyric in the frenzied number. As various philosophies are passionately spouted, the ensemble terrifically transitions from individualism to harmony before the tuneful proclamation of “Prepare Ye.”
The vocally appealing Natalie Sanders (a memorable component of Playhouse South’s production of “Children of Eden” last season) takes on the plum role of Jesus with a warm and inviting girl next door sensitivity. Sanders could be less presentational and calculated in her actions, but her genuineness is commendable. She also establishes an amiable, non-antagonistic chemistry with Jordan DuVall as Judas in addition to providing a tenderly optimistic rendition of “Beautiful City.”
Elsewhere, there are noteworthy performances from the fierce Kelli Locker (“Bless The Lord”), vocally striking Marcus Bedinger (“All Good Gifts”), sunny Hayley Penchoff (“Day by Day”), and the engaging pair of Destre Inlow (“We Beseech Thee”) and Skyler McNeely (“Light of the World”). Choreographer Rodney Veal creates many flavorful routines. Musical director Daniel Greene leads a solid offstage orchestra.
“Godspell” continues through April 13 in Blair Hall Theatre, Building 2, Sinclair Community College, 444 W. Third St., Dayton. Performances are today and Saturday at 8 p.m. Act One: 60 minutes; Act Two: 38 minutes. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, call (937) 512-2076. For more information, visit www.Sinclair.edu/tickets