When the COVID-19 pandemic started, many performers and theater companies, local and professional, watched their entire world disappear overnight. Many had to make heartbreaking decisions – would they keep performing when all this was over? Would theater ever open back up?
And would anyone even want to come see anything they put up? Musicals at Richter was hit doubly hard, as in December the storms destroyed the free-standing and outdoor stage. Would Richter even be able to function as a useable theater this year?
It is only natural, then, that their comeback performance is Godspell, the joyful free-spirited musical that retells the biblical parables.
Unlike the other biblical musicals written in the 70’s – notable Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Godspell is not a musical that requires a huge cast or even a complicated set. In fact, all it requires is 10 performers and a box full of props which allows the Richter production to use a chain link fence in place of the wings that were destroyed over the Winter.
Furthermore, Godspell is a musical that, over anything else, is an expression of joy.
Brad Blake’s production is no exception to this. Throughout the entire production, my ten-year-old buddy who accompanied me to the production could not stop smiling as the ten performers sang and danced their way across the stage. Interwoven through the production were eight (That I counted) musical theater references, several video game references, and countless movie and television references that made me cackle loudly.
The performers were clearly happy to be back on stage. Billy Hicks was likeable as Jesus and Kyle Riedinger gave Judas a soul that you can’t help but feel compassion for. Zach Theis, Sarah vonEgypt, Kevin Sayour, Renee Brown, Tori Vacca, Daisy Stott, Samantha LaMendola, and Victor Garry Rolden made up the hardworking ensemble. As an audience member, I could not help but feel the joy that radiated from every one of them. But two numbers above all stood out – Renee Brown’s Day by Day was heartfelt and left the viewer with a sense of satisfaction and Daisy Stott’s version of By My Side was so moving it left me with chills that I was not expecting to feel.
If you can get to Richter to see this energetic performance, do it. It will leave your foot tapping and a smile on your face.
Visit www.musicalsatrichter.org/ for more information or to purchase tickets