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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 9:17 am | Fair 58º


PCPA’s ‘Godspell’ Not All Heavenly

The performance needs polishing, but certain aspects still shine.

That essentially 1970s musical Godspell has settled in at Solvang’s Festival Theatre, the latest PCPA production for the summer season.

The cast is made up mostly of students, who put a lot of heart into the songs and dances. The production is likely to shake down and become more polished as it matures through its run.

At Saturday’s performance, it still showed rough edges and less drive and urgency than it should convey. Jesus Christ is portrayed by Colum Parke Morgan, who is endearing, but he also presents less charisma and anguish than the part calls for. Although, he may become more like the character of Jesus that we know from the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.

Michael Jenkinson, an Equity actor, stands out in dual roles. In the early part of the show, he is John the Baptist, urging Jesus to baptize him, but acceding to Jesus’ request to perform the rite on the Savior.

In Act II, Jenkinson portrays Judas Iscariot, administering the kiss of betrayal to Jesus. Jenkinson has professional gleam and genuine star quality as an actor and a singer.

The musical offers a number of parables, including that of the Prodigal Son. The father of the Prodigal Son was played by Jerry Lee, who earned extra applause with a standout comical performance.

The show has memorable music and lyrics, supplied by Stephen Schwartz, who has gone on to other successes, including Wicked, a hit on Broadway and in Los Angeles. The stage direction by Mark Booher works well in the outdoor venue. Shannon Huneryager is the musical director, heading up the four-member band. The protean Jenkinson is the remount director/choreographer.

Presumably, PCPA scheduled Godspell in part because it is due to reopen on Broadway this summer. The show still has echoes of the ‘70s in more ways than one. The United States was involved in the Vietnam War when it first opened, and we’re involved in Iraq now.

After taking their curtain calls at the end, the performers flashed the two-finger peace sign to the audience. Some members of the audience flashed it back.

Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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