Theater Review: Richter’s ‘Godspell’ Hits All The Right Notes
UPDATE (2:01 pm): Due to hazardous weather expected for this evening, the Thursday, July 29, performance of Godspell at Richter has been canceled.
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DANBURY — Musicals at Richter has reopened with a stunning production of Godspell, and director Brad Blake has once again worked his magic.
A glorious cast with a wealth of energy, decked out in vibrant costumes, make for a night of moving, entertaining, and thought-provoking theater awaits those who head to Richter Park for this production. Sitting under the stars makes it all the more enchanting.
Featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, this timeless musical never fails. It also lends itself to creative input from directors and players.
Godspell at Richter, with its many contemporary references, is all the more relevant and comical. The opening night audience laughed in all the right places, and fell silent in the parts during which consequences were realized. The rhythm was perfection.
The exuberance of this exceptional cast, coupled with their extraordinary vocal skills, is impressive. To walk the line of broad comedy and contain it can be difficult. This cast makes it work and hits all the right notes.
Godspell demands that the role of Jesus be taken into the hands of a soulful, yet playful, skilled vocalist. Director Blake was gifted by the exceptional talent of Billy Hicks. His rendition of this central role was stirring. It is a joy to witness.
The well-known songs of Godspell, accompanied by familiar parables, are both comforting and enlightening. They never get old. In this production, the haunting nature of “By My Side,” with its prognostic theme, is beautifully delivered by Daisy Stott and Tori Vacca.
Zach Theis is hilarious and, as always, a consummate entertainer. Sarah vonEgypt revealed a vocal capacity that warrants applause. She robustly hits the high notes over and over, to heavenly effect.
Kevin Sayour and Victor Garry Roldan each deliver snappy gospel numbers that set the audience to tapping and clapping. Renee Brown’s iteration of “Day By Day” charmed with innocence and sincerity.
As Judas, Kyle Riedinger plays this demanding role with aplomb, and Samantha LaMendola is wonderful as the sassy, funny, and always slightly out of line Sam.
Music director Peter Randazzo is to be congratulated for his gorgeous arrangements for each of the musical numbers, particularly the layered composition of songs such as “By My Side.”
Back to Mr Blake, the quality of direction, contemporary references and choreography are nothing less than creative genius. His vision here is clear and determined.
The spare set is the perfect backdrop to the color, movement, sound and message in this production. The July 23 opening night audience was on its feet before the evening was out, and for good reason. This is something special. Do not miss it.
Performances continue outdoors under the stars Friday through Sunday until August 7; and one additional Thursday evening show on August 5. Tickets and full details concerning current COVID-19 protocols are available at musicalsatrichter.org.
Richter House Arts Center is at 100 Aunt Hack Road, adjacent to Richter Park Golf Course.