All together now


Conceived by John Michael Tebelak
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Phill Greenland
New York Youth Theatre
Greenwich St. Theatre
547 Greenwich St. (242-2822)
Non-union production (closes Sept. 28)
Review by John Chatterton

For the New York Youth Theatre, whose policy is usually the opposite of the dictum, "Don't put your daughter on the stage," this production inaugurates a new policy - once a year putting on a production in which the staff perform, with the younger members running the show (although some senior members of the company also performed).

Fortunately, NYYT's staff have a fair amount of talent and experience, so their presentation of this classic, while not unflawed, was nevertheless entertaining and went smoothly.

Godspell is a good show for a good ensemble, which the NYYT provided. Some singers stood out - notably Sharon Quinn, with a commanding voice; Joy Kilpatrick, with a sweet voice and a way of selling a song; and Lorraine Stobbe, who put across the character of the woman caught in adultery in droll fashion. Stephen Palgon, as J.C., showed off a strong speaking voice, and James F. Stanley was convincing as John the Baptist (especially impressive in a patter song with Palgon). Florence Barrau-Adams, while not given the show-stopping opportunities of some others, did a solid turn and showed that she could act, too. Other singers sometimes had problems with intonation. Everyone had one "big" song and handled it well, falling back into the "chorus" to support the other solos. All was done with energy, humor, a willingness to take risks through improvisation, and respect for the text. A+ for ensemble.

Phill Greenland's direction made the most of the small stage and charming set (a New York subway station; Greenland also designed the production). The groupings, focus, and pacing kept the show moving. The lighting, which used lots of color, including "gobos" to project patterns, was very effective without getting in the way. Costumes were a grab-bag of hippie and oddball outfits and were appropriate. (Only two touches betrayed a certain inexperience in showmanship - when a techie wandered across the stage and when an instrument check took place, both after the house had opened. There was also too much spill from the worklights in the booth. These sins are as nothing compared to the horrors regularly committed in the name of "professionalism" Off-Off-Broadway.) (Also featuring Lawrence Axsmith, Phill Greenland, and Bill Mitchell.)

Box Score:
Writing 2
Directing 2
Performance 1
Set 2
Costumes 1
Lighting/sound 2