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Review: ‘Godspell JR’ at Bravo Productions

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BRAVO Productions Theatre for Young Artists strives to nurture young, local talent and offers the opportunity for those budding entertainers to perform both mainstream and classic shows on the stage. The group most recently completed their production of Stephen Schwartz’s musical, Godspell, with book by John Michael-Tabelak. The show, which follows the life of Jesus, was a fantastic blend of joy, dedication, and talent.

Norah Nappi, Alina Miller, Madelyn Rohan, and Mia Rohan. Photo courtesy of Bravo Productions.

The set resembled a schoolhouse playground painted in vivid colors, a fitting mix of the show’s roots in teachings from the Bible, primarily from the Gospel of Matthew, and the 70’s era of peace and love, in which the musical was first created.

Direction by Valerie Issembert and Choreography by Laurie Newton used the slide and various platforms to create a continuous flow of movement that utilized every inch of space. And the actors, in their equally colorful costumes, conveyed the story with an excitement that built as the production went on.

Making up this impressive, young cast was Blaire Batista, Rachel Best, Lexi Blank, Shifra Dayak, Ali Elgin, Cynthia Jacobson, Luke Lamotta, Mimi Lemar, Matthew Milam, Alina Miller, Norah Nappi, Daniella Parkinson, Olivia Pletter, Madelyn Rohan, Mia Rohan, and Madison Sherman.

The cast was full of an array of great voices, led by Musical Director Dan Binstock, and each had their moment to shine.

Matthew Milam played Jesus with strength and kindness, immediately impressing with his first song, “Save the People”.

The cast with Matthew Milam as Jesus. Photo courtesy of Bravo Productions.

“Day by Day” is by far the most well-known song of the show (even making it to the Billboard top 20 in 1972) and was led by Alina Miller and Mimi Lemar.

Lexi Blank oozed with confidence and sass in “Turn Back O’Man,” showing comedic skills with her ability to play off of the audience in the song’s asides.

Luke Lamotta was an impossible presence to miss, singing and playing the guitar for the lively “We Beseech Thee” with an infectious energy that resulted in raucous applause.

And in the melodic but somewhat haunting number, “On the Willows” featuring Mia Rohan, the cast beautifully conveyed the hope-tinged sadness that the show inspires.

The entire ensemble of BRAVO Productions Godspell did a truly wonderful job and must be immensely proud of their work. The theater was filled with a feeling of love and support throughout the show that emanated, not only from the friends and family that filled the audience, but from the genuine pride and passion that the young artists performed with. Should they continue to work, live, and play with such conviction they are sure to succeed. Congratulations to all involved and I looked forward to seeing where you go from here!

Running Time: 90 minutes with one intermission.

Godspell JR played on June 10-11 2017, at Randolph Road Theatre– 4010 Randolph Road, in Silver Spring, MD. For tickets to upcoming BRAVO Productions for Young Artists shows, call (202) 360-7578, or purchase them online.

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