Godspell, a Rock Opera, Arrives at the Westchester Broadway Theatre

Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 By: Jerry Eimbinder Source: PATCH

This revival is the first work of composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Children of Eden).

Godspell, now at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, will play through August 9, 2015.

The original version of this show opened off-Broadway in 1971; a revised version appeared on-Broadway in 1976 and first introduced the music and lyrics of Grammy and Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz to Broadway’s theater-going audiences.

The play’s cast of ten charms and entertains individually and collectively. Through ongoing song and dialogue inspired by biblical stories — the characters are told to “Learn Your Lessons Well” and that no man can serve two masters — God and money.

The plot draws from well-known parables associated with Jesus and his messages of love, tolerance and morality. 

A typical story concerns a caring master who forgives a debt owed him in response to the pleading of one of his servants. But when this servant refuses to offer a similar kindness to someone in debt to him, the master changes his decision and punishes the servant. 

The play, written by John Michael Tebelak, is directed by John Fanelli, the founder of Standing Ovation Studios in Armonk, an acting, dance, fitness, voice and music school, with help from Jonathan Stahl who is also the play’s choreographer, and musical director Bill Stanley. The crew includes set designer Steve Loftus, lighting director Andrew Gmoser, sound designer Jonathan Hatton, costume designer Matthew Hemesath, production stage manager Victor Lukas, and associate producer Lisa Tiso. Properties are provided by Grumpy Props. At times, the characters a are dressed and made up as clowns.

This is the fourth time Gilbert D. Sanchez has played Jesus in a Godspell revival and his first appearance at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. Xander Chauncey appears for the fourth time in a WBT production; he starred in Titanic, played the lead character in Jekyll and Hyde, and was cast as Buddy in It Happened One Christmas Eve. 

Other cast members are Kareema Castro, Josh Kenney, Greta Kleckner, Nicholas Park, Devon Perry, Nathan Andrew Riley, Corinne Scott, Sarah Smithson, Karley Willocks and Jonathan Stahl.