Thursday, October 08, 2009


Billericay Operatic at the Brentwood Theatre


It's so long since I heard Godspell that I'd forgotten the Babel of philosophers at the start. Their confusing theories, in Tebelak's creation, are replaced by the word of the Lord, a message so simple a child could understand it.

And that is the key to the show. This is a Sesame Street Testament, all primary colours and boundless enthusiasm. Sometimes, in Wayne Carpenter's energetic production, the PlaySchool parables did begin to pall. But the show was saved by the verve and vigour of the large cast, and by Stephen Schwartz's timeless songs, well reproduced by MD Derrick Thompson.

The classic numbers include big happy clappy choruses – Day by Day, Bless the Lord – as well as solos and duets, like Prepare Ye, Turn Back O Man – both brilliantly delivered here – and the catchy All for the Best, in the safe hands of the only two credited soloists, Philip Cousins and Wayne Carpenter.

Carpenter, in casual fatigues, was a strong Baptist, as well as Judas in Act 2. Cousins, in cool white, looked liked an American TV evangelist, but was a sincere singer with a very pleasing vocal style, accurately capturing the heart and soul of the show.

Good use was made of the small stage, with Paradise “to let” as a backdrop.

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