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  • Finian Hackett

Godspell - The Joyous Online Concert We All Needed!

The latest online production to hit our screens was the fabulous Godspell. Written by Stephen Schwartz, this hour-long online concert was put together to celebrate the shows 50th anniversary and was produced by Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester. The concert was also for charity, raising money for Hope Mill Theatre, Acting for Others and National AIDS Trust - 3 very worthy causes. Godspell premiered at Carnegie Mellon University in 1970 and has since become a hugely successful musical across the globe playing Broadway, the West End and many many other cities. It is also a firm favourite with amateur companies.

Stephen Schwartz opened the concert with him playing an instrumental overture followed by 2 introductions from himself and Ruthie Henshall. Henshall and Darren Day reprised their roles as Sonia and Jesus from the 1993 studio cast recording. Joining them was a star-studded cast: Jenny Fitzpatrick, Natalie Green, Ronald Brian, Ria Jones, Matthew Croke, Sam Tutty, Danyl Johnson, Alison Jiear, Lucy Williamson, Shekinah McFarlane, Jerome Bell, Sally Ann Triplett, John Barr, Jenna Russell and Jodie Steele. Every single one of their performances was outstanding and they each brought something special to their respective number.

I can't comment on everyone's wonderful performances as we'd be here all day but a few performances particularly stood out for me. One of those was the beautiful rendition of 'On The Willows' sung by Jenna Russell, John Barr and Sally Ann Triplett. A stunning song with entrancing harmonies made for a wonderful performance. One other song that made an impact for me was Alison Jiear's roaring 'Bless The Lord'. Filmed in and around a church, she took this number to new heights and sang her heart out. Alongside this, Ruthie Henshall covered in suds in the bath sensually singing 'Turn Back, O Man' was a moment I shan't forget in a while!

The whole production was supported by an ensemble from Italia Conti - adding in backing vocals across most numbers and creating a real sense of company and fullness. Interspersed before each number was a word that linked to the song supported by an image from the current coronavirus crisis. This addition was moving and connected each song to a feeling we can all empathise with in the current climate.

I was meant to be performing in a production of this show this summer which unfortunately was cancelled, so it was so lovely to still be able to watch this fantastic score be performed by such a talented cast. Godspell's message of hope and community is something we can all relate to no matter what our beliefs and that overriding message is something we all need to be thinking about on a day to day basis.

Luckily, you can still catch this wonderful stream tomorrow for just £15! You can also stream Jodie Steele's wonderful number 'Beautiful City' on all major streaming platforms (hopefully ahead of a full cast recording!).

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