Every once in awhile, a play comes along with the intent to ruffle some feathers through comedy and really mock us as a civilization. In 2005, Broadway gave us Spamalot. In 2015, and then again with a new cast in 2016, Broadway gave us An Act of God. And now that it has been closed on Broadway for two years, Theatreworks New Milford has taken it and put entrusted it to the extremely talented Katherine Ray to direct.
An Act of God is a 90 minute comedy that explores what would happen if God took stock of the current time period and the ten commandments and decided to do a rewrite. With the exception of two hold overs (I’ll let you go see it to figure out which ones), God (Matt Austin), with the help of the archangels Gabriel (Suzanne Powers) and Michael (Josh Newey), explains why he is replacing the old and then the reasons behind the new. He does so in a set up that seems to be a cross between a stand-up routine and a press conference, and the result is a hilarious delivery.
Matt Austin tackles the role of God with vigor, as one should when you are handling a role that requires you to do most of the dialogue. This role was played on Broadway by Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) and though I saw neither, I believe Austin’s portrayal is on par with those of these two powerhouse comedians. Suzanne Powers as Gabriel was adorable, especially running around in her angel wings and angel robes and converse sneakers. Josh Newey, always a treat to see on stage, as perfectly cast as the alcoholic and unsure Michael.
Special recognition must be given to Katherine Ray. Not only does she manage to direct a show that clearly not only leaves room for improvising but encourages it – never an easy feat to direct a show where the script is apt to change at any given moment – but she also did the set and costume design. The set is a very basic set up that perfectly captures a TV set and the essence of heaven, and the subtle destruction of Mr. Newey’s costume through the show was executed delicately and precisely. I particularly enjoyed the use of confetti (Again, go see it for a more thorough explanation).
Overall, An Act of God is a tough show for any theatre to attempt, and Theatreworks New Milford does a fine job. You will find at least a few of the jokes funny – some audience members may not enjoy all of the political humor, while others were roaring with laughter throughout – and the ending is sure to put a smile on your face.
An Act of God continues its runs July 21,27,28,29, August 3,4, 2018 . Curtain time is 8:00 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays, and 2:00 p.m. on the Sunday matinee on July 29. Tickets are $25 for reserved seating. Students and Military personnel with ID will be admitted for $20.00. THIS PRODUCTION IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN. Reservations can be made online at theatreworks.us or by calling the box office at (860) 350-6863.
TheatreWorks has been awarded "Best Small Theater in Connecticut" by Connecticut Magazine (2017) and is a recipient of the Northwest CT Arts Council CultureMAX Award. They are a non-Equity theatre company located at 5 Brookside Avenue, just off Route 202 (next to the CVS), in New Milford, CT. Parking is located behind the Catherine E. Lillis Administration Building at 50 East Street, New Milford.
Photo credit: Richard Pettibone