“Godspell” pulls a classic story into the modern era


Cast members including Nathan Krusemark (middle), perform a song alongside an audience member that was brought onto stage during dress rehearsal Tuesday night. The production is directed by Brad Dell. 

Emily Urban

The ISU Theatre performance of “Godspell” was entertaining, deeply moving and thought provoking.

Based on the Biblical book of Matthew, the show portrays the parables and life of Jesus through a storytelling session amongst friends. This production of “Godspell” used a modern, stipped-back set with only a few wooden platforms and ladders on the stage.

The costumes were simply clothes any college-aged students would wear around campus. Lighting was bright and colorful at times, and other times the stage was only lit by the phone flashlights of the actors. The modern twists brought home different lessons from stories many have heard before.

The characters are not even named as each was given the name of the actor/actress portraying them. Each friend has a unique personality that shines through as they are pulled into acting out the parables. The actors are true to themselves and their personalities as they constantly switch roles in the parables.

There are two traditional characters in “Godspell,” Jesus and John the Baptist/Judas. The actors portraying these characters interact with the story and give direction to the whole plot, giving new meaning to well known Biblical figures. You feel Jesus’ sadness as he knows what is coming. You feel Judas’ anguish as he inevitably betrays his friend. 

“Godspell” is a musical, and the audience fell in love with the music as well as the characters on stage. The actors lent their voices to nearly every tune, but each character had a song to lead in their own style. A five-person band accompanied the musical, jamming and switching styles from song to song, ranging from rock to pop to gospel.

The cast interacted with the audience throughout the performance, kicking off the show by emerging from the audience. From there on out the audience did not know what to expect. The cast pulled people on stage and ran out into the audience to shake hands. It felt as though the audience was a part of the production.

While the style of the performance was hard to grasp at first, “Godspell” wove the timeless story into a modern world. Stunning vocal performances from the entire cast as well as the music drove home the message of finding peace through our imperfections. We are all flawed, but we can all build on love and hope.