Review by Shelby Lutz, Colerain High School Cappies Critic Team
"Prepare Ye" the way for an amazing show, and a phenomenal cast. Roger Bacon's production of "Godspell" was a good gift to all and an interactive dream that had the cast by your side throughout the whole show.
"Godspell" is a musical composed by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak. The show originated off-Broadway on May 17, 1971, and then had multiple touring companies and multiple revivals. The 2011 revival, which this school's production, debuted on Broadway October 13, 2011 and ran until June 24, 2012. The musical is formed as a series of parables based on the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John. In between the parables, there are songs that include lyrics from hymns.
Roger Bacon's production of "Godspell" was powerful and moving. The cast and crew worked seamlessly together to create "A Beautiful City" on the stage. The cast was high-energy and passionate about each lesson and song. They interacted with the audience and created passion and liveliness all around the stage.
Jesus, played by Elijah Fredette, was the spirited lead of this play, and he brought great life to each parable he told. He held command of each scene with strong character choices and moving vocals. He had strong relationships with each member of the cast and had such natural interactions with each. His opposite, Judas , played by Emily Bruns, was equally intense in her actions and vocals. She commanded the stage, and created poignant emotional turns in the show.
The ensemble of this show, the Apostles, were a group of individualistic characters that each shown in their unique character choices while working together cohesively. They created powerful backgrounds to Jesus's parables and radiated emotion on their solos. They were all dressed as iconic celebrities which they took care to not only mimic in costume, but in movements and vocal styles as well. Samantha Mumper was one such Apostle whose vocal performance and instrumental talents were dazzling. She was an absolute powerhouse, and her voice and presence filled the room.
The crews for this production worked alongside the cast to create a phenomenal show. The run crew was on and off the stage throughout most of the scenes, cleaning up messes and setting the stage for each new scene. The costume crew took great care to transform each actor into specific celebrities after consideration of each of their solos. They transformed the cast into cult classics such as Elton John, Ariana Grande, and Dolly Parton. Each costume piece was deliberate in creating an image, and it helped form each individual character's participation in the show. The crews, overall, created a stunning formation for the actors to work upon.
Roger Bacon's production of "Godspell" was emotionally poignant, and the cast and crews' efforts shown in each movement of character, prop, and light alike.
Review by Emma Erion, Mercy McAuley High School Cappies Critic Team
Star Wars, rock n' roll, and the Bible? While these things don't seem to go together, they were a perfect combination in Roger Bacon's heavenly production of "Godspell."
The show is set in a recording studio where the characters of Jesus, Judas, and the ten disciples reenact famous parables and Bible lessons interspersed with songs, ultimately leading up to the Passion of Christ.
The element that truly made the show great was the actors' constant energy and their ability to immerse the onlookers in the action through things like arm waving or giving them a beat to clap.
The iconic figure of Jesus was portrayed by Elijah Fredette, whose soft vibrato shone through in songs like "Beautiful City," where he also beautifully played the piano. Emily Bruns was wonderful in the role of Judas, as she was able to be enthusiastic and bubbly in the tap number "All for the Best," but also showed raw emotion as she betrayed Jesus.
The rest of the cast played themselves onstage, and each of their individual talents were showcased throughout the show. The multi-talented Samantha Mumper gave a stellar performance of "Learn Your Lessons Well" with her clear and resonant voice and her ability to play the guitar. She also harmonized beautifully with her fellow castmate, Isabella Lynch, during "On the Willows." Miss Lynch made strong character choices as she kept up her sass throughout the show and also showcased her clear soprano during "Bless the Lord."
Dimitrius Ward was dressed like Elton John, in a bedazzled football jersey and big sunglasses, and he certainly had the energy to match. His booming voice and constant smile truly added to his character. Kloe Young was another vocal highlight, as her soft tone worked beautifully with the poignant lyrics of "By My Side." The crew was also involved in the show, as they held back the disciples as Jesus was being "crucified" and eventually carried him off.
Two technical elements that stood out were the costumes and the lighting. Each character was meant to represent a certain recording artist or era of music. Isabella Lynch wore white go-go boots and a silky black dress to represent Ariana Grande, while Abby Stewart wore bright colors and a flowy black jumpsuit to represent the 80's. The lighting truly set the mood of each scene, with bright blues and greens during happy scenes, and reds during sad scenes. A standout lighting moment was during Jesus's crucifixion, when red lights flashed across the stage, adding drama to the scene.
"Bless the Lord" for Roger Bacon's production of “Godspell”!
Review by Elizabeth Volk, St. Ursula Academy Cappies Critic Team
The bright, colorful lights flash and move around the stage. A musician plays a stunning solo on an electric guitar. Security waits just off the stage, ready to assist at a moment's notice. This sounds like the start of a rock concert or a music recording session, but it is actually the background to a dramatic retelling of Jesus's life and his parables. Roger Bacon's production of "Godspell" splendidly utilized the high energy of a recording studio to teach lessons about kindness and friendship.
With music by Stephen Schwartz, "Godspell" depicts Jesus teaching an ensemble of nine disciples about living a holy life. To do this, they act out modernized versions of parables like "The Good Samaritan" and "The Prodigal Son." They have fun, learn lessons, and become connected to each other. However, a betrayal from within breaks their bond and sets off an unstoppable chain of events.
Roger Bacon's production was anchored by its cohesiveness. The cast functioned wonderfully as an ensemble, blending together to form one group of disciples. The crew created full looks for the performers based off of celebrities and acted as security to carry out Jesus's body. These contributions all created a delightful, unified story.
Leading the ensemble as Jesus, Elijah Fredette showcased a wide range of talents, from tap dancing, to playing a keyboard, to smashing a guitar. His powerful vocals and facial expressions brilliantly portrayed Jesus's agony and sorrow during his crucifixion. Emily Bruns admirably played Judas, Jesus's betrayer. She added humanity to the often vilified Judas by terrifically exhibiting doubt and guilt about causing Jesus's death.
The other ensemble members portrayed regular people, not specific Biblical personas. They each developed specific personalities which were effectively depicted in the parables and their solo features. One stand out was Samantha Mumper, whose stunning, melodic voice implored all to "Bless the Lord". Both Dimitrius Ward and Isabella Lynch created humorous, over-the-top personalities which added to the production's high energy. A final strength of the ensemble was their musicianship. In addition to singing, a majority of the performers played instruments throughout the show. Their playing was outstanding and well-integrated into the production.
Marvelously supplementing the performers were the technical elements. Ally Holt, Miriam Kolis, and Anna Kowalskicreated costumes that fantastically exuded the looks of celebrities from Elton John to Carole King. These outfits were complimented by the lovely hair and makeup designs, also based on celebrities, by Maleah Sherman, Emma Lynch, Gen Peck, and Megan Shooner. Both of these crews' contributions distinguished each ensemble member and their personality. The lighting by Sophia Matacia, Maria Schlaechter, and Dylan Cianciolo added to the atmosphere of a music recording studio. There were many different patterns and colors which matched the high energy and the themes of each scene.
With flashing lights and electric guitar solos, Roger Bacon delivered an electrifying production of "Godspell." While the atmosphere of a music recording studio is unconventional, it aptly fits with the show's theme of a group of people coming together to create works of art.
Excerpts from Top-Ranked Student Reviews
“From the moment Judas (Emily Bruns ) descended through the house and onto the stage, glowing in the light of a follow spot, her performance was spectacular. Whether ecstatic in her friendship with Jesus or distraught due to her eventual betrayal, she carried the emotional weight and underlying depth of an otherwise humorous show. Jesus (Elijah Fredette ) also had a wonderful performance. He gave a beautiful rendition of "Beautiful City" in Act II, his lovely vocals a compliment to the poignant lighting.”
-Iris LeCates, Walnut Hills High School
“Of course, the show would not have been possible without the exacting precision of the stage crew who worked tirelessly throughout the performance to make sure stage pieces like amps, instruments, and a myriad of other props were in the right place at the right time. Anneliese Lorsbach and her team deserve great praise for their success.”
- Luke Rohling, Loveland High School
“The supporting cast effectively enlivened the teachings of Jesus through explosive dance numbers and compelling characterization. Brimming with comedic talent, Erin Koch effectively enhanced the humorous tones of the show. Through innovative interaction coupled with a ditzy yet charming demeanor, Koch elicited ample amounts of laughter with her fresh, and often farcical, humor.”
- Reeya Dighe, Walnut Hills High School
“Maria Schlaechter , and Dylan Cianciolo, ranged from simple washes for parables to flashing colors for numbers such as "We Beseech Thee" and "Bless the Lord ." Interestingly, some of the more splashy lights were improvised from night to night, a fitting choice for "Godspell"
- Clare Brennan,Walnut Hills High School
“Elijah Fredette, who played the role of Jesus, especially had a great performance. All of his lines and songs were delivered with passion, and his improvisational skill felt so natural. Erin Koch also did a great job with reactions and her delivery of jokes. Her humor with the trombone was hilarious and extremely well-done.”
- Allison Kiehl, Loveland High School
“The crew's hard work and attention to detail was apparent and had an amazing effect on the overall show. Costumes and Makeup helped the students identify as their celebrities easier, using every resource for a purposeful reason. They also made sure that the two leads were simpler than the rest. The sound and stage crew must be commended for participating on stage and having great presence and forming smooth transitions.”
- Kaia Armstrong, Colerain High School
“Samantha Mumper sang "Learn Your Lessons Well," blowing the entire audience away with her incredible tone quality and strong vocal technique. Mumper was a stand-out performer the entire show as well. She was fully immersed in the plot and story even when she wasn't speaking lines or belting a tune.”
- Sujaya Sunkara, William Mason High School
These reviews also appeared on the Cincinnati Enquirer's website.