Oh, ‘Godspell’: Modernized to entertain today’s masses

Hunter Parrish stars as Jesus in the Broadway revival of “Godspell.”

It’s a premise you might know: A benevolent shepherd teaches open-hearted pupils how to be better people in the name of salvation. Stephen Schwartz’s hits (“Day by Day,” “Turn Back, O Man”) might also sound familiar from the original musical off-Broadway in 1971 (it closed on Broadway in 1977), or the subsequent movie in 1973.

This family musical might not exactly go part and parcel with a happy ending, but at least you can put off thinking about that until after the first act. And parents won’t have to worry about children getting clobbered over the head with religion, as the story is told through approachable parables padded in high-energy humor and pop culture references.

Hunter Parrish (“Spring Awakening,” “Weeds”) plays a handsome, happy Jesus whose grinning innocence sometimes belies the intelligence that such a powerful leader of men would likely possess. Nine ensemble actors answer to their real names and showcase individual strengths onstage; each steals the spotlight in turn during his or her featured solo. There’s a pure, contagious energy not only onstage but on all sides of the theater-in-the-round — the highlight of which is wooden floorboards that open to reveal splashy pools of water or even trampolines.

“Godspell” will always be hampered by the setback of being, well, “Godspell.” It lacks a cohesive plot and is often best received when it’s used as a canvas for a theme or ideology, aside from the obvious. But it’s hard to fault Daniel Goldstein’s production for that omission, considering it leaves room for us to appreciate the cast and its enviable intimacy (we want to get onstage and join the disciples, and are actually welcomed to during intermission).

The show’s biggest detriment is the sudden shift to sobriety in the second act. We haven’t been able to know Jesus as more than a mouthpiece before his downfall, so the sudden bid for our emotional involvement is what one might call a Hail Mary.


Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.


Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.


Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.