The Stevenage Lytton Players
Director Michael Horne.
Musical Director Simon Tabert.
The Stevenage Lytton Players Autumn 2005 Musical Production Godspell was performed at the Gordon Craig Theatre
Godspell begins with Jesus declaring himself as God and King in whom there is no beginning and no end. The company takes on the roles of different philosophers (including Socrates, Martin Luther, and Leonardo Da Vinci) who debate the existence of the God. The debate disintegrates into babble where ideas become only fragments.
John the Baptist enters and brings order as he sings “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”. John the Baptist baptizes the company who quickly exit. When Jesus wishes to be baptized, John kneels and wishes to be baptized by him instead. Jesus brings John back to his feet and tells him that he is here to save mankind in the song, “Save The People”.
The company begin to put make-up on their faces. Jesus assures them that he has come not to abolish the law of the prophets but to complete it. Jesus informs them that those who keep to the law of God will earn the highest place in heaven. To illustrate this, he tells the story of the widow and the judge. The story shows that God is a good judge who will vindicate those who cry out to him day and night. The company then takes over and acts out the story of the Pharisee and the tax gatherer praying in the temple to illustrate that every man who humbles himself before God shall be exalted. Jesus preaches the law of offering gifts at the altar before God as the company acts making offerings. Then, as they all clap in rhythm, they all act out the story of a Master who had a servant who owed him debt. The servant asked for the Master’s pity, and the Master remitted the debt. However, the servant had a fellow servant who owed him a debt. When the servant did not show the same pity that the Master had shown, the Master condemns the servant to prison until the debt is paid. Jesus tells the company that the moral of the story is that one must forgive as God forgives. If one does not forgive, then God will condemn one to prison.
One of the company members sings “Day By Day” which is a prayer for clear vision. The company joins into the song. After the song ends, Jesus preaches that if one part of the body offends, better to lose it than to have the whole of it thrown into hell. The company then plays to charades to answer such questions as “if a man sues you for your shirt. . .” or “if a man asks you to go a mile with him. . .” posed by Jesus. The company then does a pantomime of the Good Samaritan story for Jesus who then tells them to love their enemies and not to make a show of religion. If good deeds are done in secret, the reward will come from God.
The company performs the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus is a poor man who goes to heaven, and the rich man goes to hell. The rich man begs God to let Lazarus rise from the dead in order to warn his rich brothers of their eventual fate. One of the company members sings “Learn Your Lesson Well” in which he warns of eternal doom if one does not learn the laws of God. Jesus tells the company that no one can be devoted to two masters, and that no man can serve God and money.
One of the company members tells a story of a man, who spends his life accumulating things and then dies before he can enjoy it. She then sings “Oh Bless the Lord, My Soul” in which she praises a patient and wise God. Jesus bids the company to put away thoughts of material things and anxieties about tomorrow. The company recites the beatitudes (Blessed are the poor in spirit, etc.), and Jesus answers them in a call-and-response manner. However, Judas recites the final beatitude about persecution and directs it at Jesus. The company freezes with fear about what events are to come. However, Jesus quickly changes the subject and sings “All for the Best” through which he assures everyone that even if life is bad, their reward will be in heaven. Judas sings a verse of the song as well, and he and Jesus perform a soft shoe dance. The company joins into the song as well.
After the song ends, the company does various bits of stage business. A company member pretends to have stage fright. Jesus organizes them all to tell the parable of the sower and the seeds which represent the word of God. To further illustrate the parable, one company member sings “All Good Gifts”. The company then pretends to be soldiers in the military, and Jesus pretends to be their drill sergeant. The company then acts out the story of the prodigal son. They sing “Light of the World”, a song which encourages everyone to be shining beacons in the world. Jesus announces that they are taking a ten minute break and thanks the audience for coming.
A member of the company comes up through the audience and sings “Turn Back O Man” in which she encourages mankind to give up its foolish ways and turn to God. Jesus joins her in the singing of the song, and they dance. Company members then become Pharisees who question Jesus’s authority. Jesus questions their questions with a story and tells them that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and to love thy neighbour as thyself.
In the song, "Alas for You", Jesus scorns the Pharisees and calls them hypocrites. Some company members join in the song and throw garbage at the Pharisees. At the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Jesus predicts that he will not be seen again until a future time. He remembers the time of Noah when the flood swept over the land and drowned mankind. He predicts that when he comes again, only one man and one woman will be taken with him. The rest will be left wailing outside the kingdom of God.
One of the women company members is thrown down onto the stage and called an adulteress. Jesus tells the company that the one who is faultless can throw the first stone at her. When no one condemns her, Jesus tells her that he will not condemn her but that she must not sin again. The woman sings “By My Side” in which she asks Jesus to travel with her. As Judas betrays Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Jesus tells of a time when he will sit in glory and divide men into two groups like a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. His righteous sheep will enter heaven while the cursed goats will face eternal fire. The goats beg for mercy and sing “We Beseech Thee”.
Then, in a re-creation of the last supper, Jesus gives the company bread and wine and announces that it is his body and blood. They will all eat and drink together again in the kingdom of God. They remove their make-up, ready to go out into the world without disguises. They sing "Beautiful City", a song about the work that must go on after their leader departs. Jesus announces that one of the company will betray him and tells Judas to do what he has to do quickly. Judas runs off. Jesus bids farewell to his followers and prays in the garden. In a moment of uncertainty, he begs for the burden to be lifted from him and is tempted by the devil, but he orders the devil to be gone.
Judas returns and betrays Jesus who is crucified on the fence upstage while the company climbs the fence and wails. In the “Finale”, Jesus sings as he dies.
The resurrection is portrayed in our production as a joyous affirmation of fellowship and hope in seeking and achieving a common goal.