On Sunday night The Ass and I headed into the city with the kids for dinner and a show. I was fortunate to receive tickets to Godspell on Broadway from Mama Drama, a wonderful organization that promotes Broadway shows to moms.
We started out with dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, just a block and a half from the theater. If you’ve never been (we hadn’t), it’s a good warm-up to seeing a Broadway musical. The entire wait staff takes turns singing selections from Broadway shows. This is not Monica from Friends standing on the counter singing over her big fake boobs, either. This is for real – these people can sing. In fact, last year the diner lost eleven waiters and waitresses to Broadway shows, including one to Godspell! One waitress even dazzled the diners with “Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide – she wasn’t messing around.
We got to the theater early and checked out the cast info. I absolutely love Hunter Parrish on Weeds, and he plays Jesus. Fiona immediately recognized Anna Maria Perez de Tagle from Camp Rock. And I was struck by the fact that six members of the cast were making their Broadway debuts (as is director Daniel Goldstein).
The Circle in the Square Theater is a really great space. I don’t think there could be a bad seat in the house. I’ve always thought there’s something magical to theater-in-the-round: once you’re not playing on a traditional proscenium stage, everything else should be messed with too. Rules should be broken. I wasn’t disappointed. From the way the band is scattered throughout the theater to the different surprises in the stage, this production is innovative. I mean, how can you not appreciate a show where a fatted calf plays the cowbell?
I mentioned in the title that the cast could sing the phone book, but only if it were set to music by Stephen Schwartz, who is responsible for both Wicked (one of my favorite musicals of all time), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the most underrated and overlooked of all the Disney musicals – I’m still waiting for it to get the Disney Broadway treatment.
The most interesting thing about this production is how topical it is. There are tons of references to politics, pop culture, etc. and if this were a movie it would be dated in about ten minutes. But judging by the Mitt Romney joke that had to have been added within the past few days, they’re keeping it fresh, and it totally works.
This is probably a good time to mention that I’m an atheist. My husband was surprised that I wanted to see the show. I pointed out that I’m not really a fan of murder and cannibalism either, but I’ll go see Sweeney Todd any day. A good show is a good show, whatever the subject. Godspell is based on the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and the lessons are brought to life in the same way that reading Shakespeare can be dry, but a good production is totally understandable and riveting.
The first act is definitely more joyous and, in my opinion, better than the first. But that’s not really anybody’s fault. The betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus is kind of a downer, even when sung. It’s all handled really beautifully, but still, things are solemn for a long time, and I imagine younger kids could get bored during the second act. I had to put my hand on Fiona’s program a couple times to make her stop playing with it. The show runs two hours and fifteen minutes, and in retrospect a matinee might have made more sense, but she loved it and is excited to listen to the soundtrack, which I bought the next day.
Jake is a tougher customer. He wasn’t all that enthusiastic about going in the first place, but I feel like kids should be exposed to theater as much as possible, and was really hopeful that he would get into it. Several times I glanced over at him and saw him playing air drums and clapping. He told me after that he gave it a 7.5 out of 10. Considering he would’ve otherwise been at home playing video games, I was more than happy with that.
My husband gave it the highest praise he could: if you like that sort of thing, it’s really good and definitely worth seeing. I was fooled in the beginning, when we were first dating: he went to every musical I wanted to. But, in the same way that I no longer shave my legs for him, he no longer pretends to like musicals just to please me. I’m sure that he would rather have been on the couch next to Jake, also playing video games, so I appreciate his sacrifice. :-)
There was a drawing after the show for two audience members to go back stage and get a tour, and I’m not sure who was more disappointed not to win, me or Fiona. This is the first show in a long time that I’ve wanted to see again right after it ended. If you are anywhere near NYC and your kids are about seven or older, I would highly recommend Godspell, especially if they’ve never seen a Broadway show. You can get a very big discount on tickets to Godspell through this link, using code GSMDR79.
Also, be aware that there’s something called Talk Back Tuesdays, where after the Tuesday show (through March) a different cast member talks about his/her role in the show, audition, etc. If I see the show again it’s going to be on a Tuesday. :-)
Thank you to photographer Jeremy Daniel and the Godspell website for use of the production photos, and to Mama Drama for this great night out.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 1. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.