A bright and bouncy production of the spirited soft-rock musical, "Godspell," is on stage at the White Marsh Dinner Theatre.
Directed with smart theatrical flair by Lewis Lebrun, this entertaining contemporary re-telling of the Gospel according to St. Matthew is presented through 15 songs that highlight the main events in the life of Jesus Christ -- from baptism to the joyful "spreading of the word" among the masses to the moving Crucifixion finale.
Performed within the framework of a musical revue, the work relies on creative, updated improvisational input. This the company has done very well even though the humor sometimes is stretched a bit far.
An energetic and very talented young cast of five men and five women, who represent the disciple and mankind, enact the Biblical parables in song and comical narrative style using broadly amusing vaudeville techniques. Corny jokes, modern references to soap operas, commercials, TV game shows and movies jazz up St. Matthew's text. It is all in fun -- with serious undertones -- and never irreverent.
This hippie version of the Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Trebelak early-'70s off-Broadway hit contains some memorable songs. Most notable are: "Day by Day," "Light of the World," "All Good Gifts."
Eileen Keenan's erotically executed warning number, "Turn Back, O Man," sizzles. "By My Side" is a poignant tune sung sweetly by Michelle Merson with nice backup by Keenan and the company.
Chuck Graham stands out in the dark role of the betrayer Judas Iscariot. Edward J. Peters is a gentle Christ figure radiating goodness and love for an unappreciative society.
Good performance by other cast members: Alexsandra Auty, Kimberly Auty, Kim. M. Garrison, Michael J. Isennock, Richard W. Lloyd and Jeffery L. Peterson.
The show has smooth pace and lively rhythm of movement. The DTC choreography by Billy Burke and Edward J. Peters, if not exceptional, is certainly pleasingly perky.
Timothy Crofoot is the musical director in charge of the latest musical innovation -- digital orchestrations.
The one incongruous note in this snappy production is the Shakespearean drop behind the actors. Something symbolically celestial would be more effective.
"Godspell" will continue to cast its magic spell at the White Marsh Dinner Theatre through Sept. 15.
NOTE: Howard Perloff, producer of the Fells Point Cabaret Theatre, has announced that the company will stage the world premiere of "Bernie's Bar Mitzvah" Oct. 9 through Dec. 16. Written by Perloff, it is another audience participation show. "With the success of 'Tony and Tina's Wedding' and 'Murder on the Waterfront' in the past seasons, I thought a bar mitzvah would be a lot of fun," Perloff said.
The ticket prices ($55 per person Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays; $65 Saturdays) include beverages, appetizers, full course dinner, fancy dessert table and the show.
Performance times are 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
For further information, call the Fells Point Cabaret Theatre at 327-8800.