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East of England
posted/updated: 05 Jan 2019 - edit review / upload photos
Stephen Schwartz
society/company: Brentwood Operatic (directory)
performance date: 04 Nov 2014
venue: Brentwood Theatre
reviewer/s: Michael GRAY (Independent review)

All those YouTube philosophers, draped in blackout curtains, swept away by the colourful hippie world of John the Baptist [happy vest] and Jesus of Nazareth [tasteful white and grey].
Jacob Allan and Ian Southgate [director and musical director for BOS] have given us a stripped down Godspell – all the colour is in the costumes – with lots of cheeky detail: the mineral water, the wristbands, the selfie.
Musically, it was a real pleasure to hear these familiar numbers done unplugged; the choral singing was excellent, in We Beseech Thee, for instance, which was also very successfully staged. Some impressive solo work, too, from Emily Funnell in Day By Day, and Fleur Moore-Bridger in Learn Your Lessons to name but two. By My Side is superbly, touchingly done by the Women Taken In Adultery [Nicole Campbell and Jennifer Bell]. There were opportunities for most of the performers to shine, such as Jack Lloyd in Beautiful City. Good use of percussion, too: drum for the Parable of the Debtor, wood block for All For The Best, nicely put over in a circular vaudeville style by Ben Martins as The Baptist [later Judas] and Stewart Briggs as a gentle Jesus. His voice is on the light side, but his performance is sincere and engaging; this Messiah is a consummate communicator.
The stories and parables, acted out literally and naively by disciples and converts, risk slowing the action and making the actors look like Play School presenters. But generally there was enough enthusiasm and inventiveness [the Ark, the political hypocrites] to carry the narrative from Jordan to Gethsemane and the Crucifixion.

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