Review: Godspell at The Kings Theatre, Southsea

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The concert performance of the new Broadway version of Godspell passed – very briefly – through Southsea this week; only three performances on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The script – based on Biblical improvisations by the original off-Broadway cast in 1970 and now a little tired – has been largely untouched with only the occasional nod to the 21st century.

The score, however, has been heavily revised with vastly more complex harmonies and a much heavier rock sound.

But does it work? The (too-small) audience at Tuesday’s performance were certainly on their feet and whooping at the end – but the wonderful simplicity of the original score had been drowned in an ocean of jangling guitar and belt-voiced performances.

That’s not to say the cast aren’t good; they are, by and large, astonishing with notable contributions from Leanne Jarvis, Laura Marshall, Jennifer Potts, Jason Broderick and Mitch Miller.

Tom Senior as Christ delivers an easy, gentle vocal, particularly on Beautiful City, but Andy Abraham as John the Baptist/Judas disappoints. Vocally he’s stunning; he simply cannot act.

The revised show appears to be an omelette made of curates’ eggs. Too much unnecessary embellishment musically, not enough revision of the script.