Theo Ubique Presents GODSPELL Review — Fun and Rainbows with Religious Flair

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We enter the Theo Ubique space on Howard and see the usual cabaret tables lining up in front of the bar. However, this time, they’ve been placed on either side of a painted concrete sidewalk. It cuts diagonally up the stage lined with patches of grass. Along the border of the stage, weeds and daisies pop up to create a peaceful outdoor scene. Completing the outdoor park is rainbow graffiti along the back wall and sides of the audience platforms. It feels like a sunny spring day that matches the bright tone of Godspell. 

Theo Ubique’s Colorful Show

 

As the cast takes the stage for the opening number, it’s a dull academic affair. They enter carrying index cards, notebooks, and textbooks to deliver their theologies and philosophies. Everything seems dull, dark, and muddled as they move about the stage quickly in black hoodies, sweatshirts, and ponchos. Our eyes dart between them, watching their restless pacing. Suddenly, they have a moment of freedom, and they toss away their different cloaks to reveal:

A pair of bold, graphic print pants…

 

A long and flowy floral print maxi dress…

 

A pastel pink work jumpsuit… 

 

A sheer rainbow blouse…

In addition to the rainbow graffiti along the park’s edge, the costumes designed by Rueben Echoles are also as colorful as can be. Many might remember Godspell having hippie vibes and 70s clothing, and Theo Ubique’s design feels like it has a similar aesthetic to that era but keeps it modern. With a nod to this period, where love and community were paramount, we are drawn into a similar mentality. 

Distinct Characters and Modern References

Our actors never let their energy drop throughout the show as they quickly move from story to story. Though each parable or lesson could stand on its own as they each take turns storytelling, the cast find ways to move and flow from one to the next, creating a seamless journey. 

They update their segues between scenes and references to more modern ones. We get a rendition of Baby Shark turned into an aptly titled Judgey Shark when taken in front of a court. The park walkway also lends itself to a ballroom moment as the cast vogues down the runway, complete with fan snaps. 

Creating Separation 

For those who have seen Godspell before, one of the main differences you might notice is there isn’t a reference to Jesus or other religious figures in Theo Ubique’s production. Instead, all our actors go by their own names. It distances us from the role of religion in the lessons of these stories. We can see these parables and teachings as ways of being a good person. 

That being said, for this writer, it didn’t seem like it went far enough in that direction and still reads as a religion-heavy show, which, to be fair, is hard to get away from when there’s musical numbers like Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord and scenes depicting the Last Supper and crucifixion. 

For those who are fans of the original Godspell, or just those who are looking for an upbeat musical, this production would be a good fit for you. For those who aren’t super into religious shows, this might not be your cup of tea.

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CAST:

Alix Rhode
Anna Marie Abbate
Austin Nelson Jr.
Anna Blanchard
Bryce Ancil
Chamaya Moody
Hannah Efsits
Izzie Jones
Jon Parker Jackson
Tommy Wells
Laz Estrada
Matthew Hunter
Quinn Simmons
Ashley Saul

CREATIVE TEAM:

Music and New Lyrics by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Directed by Christopher Pazdernik
Music Directed by Jeremy Ramey
Choreographed by Jenna Schoppe
Associate Director/Choreographer: Jordan Ratliff
Associate Music Director: Matthew Hunter
Production Manager: Nicholas Reinhart
Stage Manager: Kaitlyn Souter
Scenic Manager: Yeaji Kim
Lighting Designer: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent
Associate Lighting Designer: Josiah Croegaert
Costume Designer: Rueben Echoles
Properties Designer: Lonnae Hickman
Sound Designer: Stefanie M. Senior
Technical Director: Alan Weusthoff
Production Electrician: Josiah Croegaert
Audio Engineers: Isaac Mandel and John Johnson
Technical Supervisor/Assistant Stage Manager: Molly Smith

WHEN:

June 19 - July 31, 2022

Sundays - 7pm
Thursdays - 7:30pm
Fridays - 7:30pm
Saturdays - 7:30pm

WHERE:

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
721 Howard Street
Evanston, IL 60202

TICKETS:

$ 42+

For more information and tickets visit the Theo Ubique website.

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.

Alexis Bugajski

About the Author: Alexis Bugajski

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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