Blank Canvas seems to be on a theatrical roll of good fortune. The theatre has developed a great following and luckily seems to be able to bring new audience members in with every production. A lot of that is word of mouth. To me, that is an incredible asset to be blessed with and well deserved. And a test of real impact in the community. Because face it, theatre people can be bitchy.
At first when you see Godspell promoted as a production, I think there may be a involuntary reaction of "Oh Really? Another production of Godspell?! OH, i can't wait!". But this production has something to offer. First, it is the revival script. And second, the unique vision of Patrick Ciamacco (Director/Artistic Director/Founder). The creative slant on this production is apparent right away as we see a young girl getting ready for bed. In her dreamland, the story unfolds with characters coming out of everywhere like when Ace Ventura calls his pets to come out of hiding after getting rid of the Landlord in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. Each character establishes his or her own identity with multiple accents throughout the musical with hilarious effect. A great indicator of how a show is entertaining for me is if i am checking my watch, or looking at my program ticking off the musical numbers like a countdown. But here, the acts went smoothly with vivacious energy and just little pockets of "get a move on", but not enough to slow the fun or deter the entertainment. The edited version of this show helped move the piece along and provide a beautiful segway to the emotional ending. I read the book, so at least i knew what was coming.
The man, literally, who is the ballast for the evening is Jesus, played with simplistic and charming effect by Noah Hrbek. The quality of his voice made it clear how folks could be caught up in his lessons of humanity and religious purpose. It was a vulnerable performance that generated every mood needed to take the audience on course. It was a tremendous pleasure to see Shane Patrick O'Neill on stage again. He has a tremendous voice and stage presence. Lucky for Cleveland he is back in town and ready to rumble the boards. Leslie Andrews is a musical tractor pull of fun. Carol Burnett comedic chops and vocals that could set off a fire alarm. Eric Thomas Fancher is the king of one liners. Delivered with a dead pan accuracy, and as I like to call it "A comedic fade away jumper". It takes a few seconds, and then you are laughing your ass off. With strong vocals to boot, Captain Kirk would have been proud. His hair needed to take a curtain call. Newcomer Kristin Hoffman was serving some fresh vocal realness. She is a welcome addition to the Cleveland stage. Her duet with Kate Leigh Michalski was absolutely beautiful. Speaking of Kate, she is one musical medic kit waiting to happen. Soaring vocals pierce through the evening and also blend with heartbreaking result as in By My Side with Kristin. Kirk Lydell is a lion voiced belter who handles All Good Gifts with deft ability. He bounced around that stage like it was the day before crossing the Serengeti. Heyden Neidhardt was one of the evenings best surprises. Her voice is strong and carries with it a truth that singers dream about achieving. Isreal Spain balances out the evening as Judas. He served the production well in providing vocals which prepared us the mood for the entire evening, which was "this is going to be good".
Congrats to the Band for generating music that uplifted the production and took the musical numbers along with them.
Patrick Ciamacco should be applauded for having a unique vision of the show. The crowd enjoyed it and there is nothing better then hearing laughter in my book. His vision remains intact for providing a fresh approach to the Cleveland theatre scene.
Director: Patrick Ciamacco
Music Director: Lawrence Wallace
Costume Design: Luke Scattergood
Lighting Design: Cory Molner
Scenic Painting: Noah Hrbek
Choreographer: Pierre Jacques-Brault