The intimate setting of the Weekend Theater serves its latest production well. Dynamic characters — Jesus and a company of 12 approximating his disciples — filled every inch of space, both physically and vocally, effectively drawing the audience into the story. The Weekend Theater's “Godspell” is a celebration of the Gospel anyone can enjoy.
Act one opened with Jesus, played by Weekend Theater veteran Duane Jackson, costumed in a flannel shirt, carpenter jeans and a Lowe's nail apron — a more modern, literal version of his archetype. The company joined him in the theater wearing a rainbow of scholarly robes and speaking as ancient philosophers. Then a church-choir-like performance lifted the mood and a silly Tower of Babel number got the crowd laughing.
The actors' child-like enthusiasm was a staple of the joyous production, and they turned learning the parables into a game. With the story of the Good Samaritan, the company played charades with the audience and put on a sock-puppet show. The “love thine enemy” lesson was demonstrated through petty playground fighting. Jesus and Judas even did a comedy tap routine.
Act two takes on the serious subject matter of Judas' betrayal and Jesus' death. But a burlesque performance for Jesus and a hilarious re-enactment of Noah's Ark kept the audience chuckling. The finale, though certainly dramatic, was a bit lacking in energy compared to the rest of the show.
One parable worth mentioning is that of the Prodigal Son. The band accompanied the wasteful son on his journey to and from the pigpen with the Razorbacks fight song and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” The audience laughed hysterically as the father and son performed a contemporary interpretive dance.
Throughout the show, the entire cast sang beautifully together with complementing harmonies and overall strong vocals. Standout soloists were Jennifer Boccarossa (“O, Bless the Lord, My Soul”), Dustin Ashley Beam (“All Good Gifts”) and Laura Schultz and Amanda Boggs (“By My Side”).
Minus a few minor line slip-ups and a too-quiet solo or two (perhaps opening night jitters?), the Weekend Theater's production of “Godspell” was an enthusiastic performance capable of entertaining audiences in a much larger venue.