Tag Archives: Jodie Steele

Godspell Online in Concert

Godspell Online in Concert



Godspell Online in Concert

Godspell Online in Concert

Online via Hope Mill Theatre

Reviewed – 26th August 2020



“The music speaks for itself, the lyrics speak for everyone, and the singers’ voices speak of the future for our industry. If this concert is anything to go by, it looks bright.”



Fifty years ago, “Godspell” made its Off-Broadway debut as a play with music: a retelling of the Gospel of Matthew set in modern-day New York City. The writer, John-Michael Telebek, was inspired by the lack of drama, conflict and resolution in the conventional religious services he witnessed at the time. Congregations were bored. His aim was to create a religious experience that would be theatrical, and that would ‘move’ people. An entertaining way to approach a serious subject matter. It was to be another year before Stephen Schwartz’s music was introduced into the show and the barriers between music and religion were being torn down. Even so, it is a piece of work that constantly needs updating and revitalising for it to remain relevant or interesting to audiences of today.

This fiftieth anniversary ‘concert’ production, directed by Michael Strassen has completely done away with Telebek’s text, leaving just the magic of Schwartz’s score to spread the message. A necessary ploy for the purposes of this production but one that is truly satisfying and refreshing. It is a far cry from being a ‘live’ experience, but what is communicated to the audience is the joy of the performers and their spell-binding performances. Although filmed and pieced together from the cast’s own homes, the sense of community inherent in the material manages to break through the screen.

The song cycle loosely retells a series of parables from the New Testament that lead up to the crucifixion of Christ. Despite all the undercurrents, it is a driving message of hope for a brighter future, made all the more relevant by cleverly splicing images of our world in lockdown into the final frames of the broadcast. Stephen Schwartz himself provides a poignant introduction to the concert; paraphrasing a couple of the central questions that the musical asks: “will we tear ourselves apart? Or can we come together as a global community?” It is a heartfelt opening with nothing whatsoever mawkish about the sentiment. We are then asked to ‘enjoy the show’.

And enjoy it we certainly do, even if the thought of another online event is starting to irritate that itch to get back to live theatre. The host of leading lights from Musical Theatre, under George Carter’s musical direction, give wonderfully fresh and novel interpretations of the numbers; from Jenny Fitzpatrick’s a Capella opening verses of “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” through to the finale. It does come across at times as an extended music video, but it is a delightful journey as we are steered through the songbook. One of the highlights has to be Ruthie Henshall’s risqué routine during “Turn Back O Man” which puts a whole new spin on performing “within a bubble”. Lucy Williamson and Shekinah McFarlane team together for an entrancing “By My Side”. Darren Day gives a wonderful turn as Jesus in “Alas for You”, evoking an underlying anger at injustice that hasn’t really changed since biblical times. Danyl Johnson’s spirited “Light of the World” oozes optimism, but the true spine-tingling moment comes as a kind of encore, after the finale. During “Beautiful City” Jodie Steele’s crystal voice emerges from a bruised soul, clinging to a hope that she wants to impart on us all. “You can give up bitter and battered, or you can slowly start to build.” “Yes, we can”, the chorus responds.

Irrespective of the intrinsic religious messages, this anniversary concert carries its own message. A message made much clearer by the sheer talent of the voices delivering it. The music speaks for itself, the lyrics speak for everyone, and the singers’ voices speak of the future for our industry. If this concert is anything to go by, it looks bright.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans




Godspell Online in Concert

Online until 29th August via Hope Mill Theatre


Previously reviewed by Jonathan:
Nearly Human | ★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Tell It Slant | ★★★ | Hope Theatre | February 2020
The Importance Of Being Earnest | ★★★½ | The Turbine Theatre | February 2020
Closed Lands | ★★★ | The Vaults | March 2020
Max Raabe & Palast Orchester | ★★★★★ | Cadogan Hall | March 2020
The Kite Runner | ★★★★ | Richmond Theatre | March 2020
The Last Five Years | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | March 2020
A Separate Peace | ★★★★ | Online | May 2020
The Understudy | ★★★★ | Online | May 2020
Henry V | ★★★★ | The Maltings | August 2020



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One Night With … – 4 Stars


One Night With …

Studio 88

Reviewed – 16th October 2018


“a lovely, joyful idea, and the sense of this was totally present on the opening night”


For those who don’t know it already (this was certainly my first time…), Studio88 is a gorgeous and intimate underground music venue just off Wardour Street. A live band plays almost non-stop, taking requests and blasting out dance floor hits and cult classics (depending on the audience) in a space that, on a Tuesday night at least, isn’t as overstuffed as you’d image a venue of this nature just off Leicester Square.

The bar plays host to a variety of events and launched its ‘One Night With…’ season this week. The idea behind it is to allow musical theatre fans to get up close and personal with their favourite West End stars, hearing them sing the hit tunes that made their name, as well as a little bit more about their lives on both sides of the stage door. Each week sees a different star interviewed and introduced by James Barr, who will host the rest of the gigs. It’s a lovely, joyful idea, and the sense of this was totally present on the opening night.

Doug Armstrong, so-called ‘YouTube sensation’, was our host on Tuesday night, at ease with his audience and quite charming to boot. His guests, Jodie Steele – known for her roles in ‘Wicked’ and ‘Heathers: The Musical’ – and Carrie Hope Fletcher – well-known author and long-serving star of ‘Les Misérables’ – were honest, funny and thoroughly entertaining, blasting out hits the fans adored from ‘Heathers’, ‘Wicked’, and – you guessed it – ‘Les Misérables’. We heard how childhood experiences helped Steele connect with her character in ‘Heathers’ and how Fletcher feels now looking back to her days as a child actor. It was genuinely interesting stuff, and a friendly and entertaining way to allow audiences to relate to the people they admire. In addition to all that, the singers and band were on top form.

For those disinterested in the world of West End musical theatre, steer well clear. For everyone else (and if the launch night is anything to go by) this will be a thrilling evening of insight and intimacy. You can feel the excitement issuing from the crowd of fans as they get within touching distance of these talented and respected stars, and all in all is a fast-track ticket to a great night out.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich


One Night With …

Studio 88 returning every Tuesday



Tuesday October 23: Marisha Wallace, Effie White in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre.
Tuesday October 30: Claire Sweeney, star of the stage and screen.
Tuesday November 6: Rob Houchen, currently in Eugenius! as Eugene.
Tuesday November 13: Julie Atherton, the original Kate Monster in the West End’s Avenue Q.
Tuesday November 20: Jordan Luke Gage, Strat in Bat Out of Hell in the West End.
Tuesday November 27: Sophie Evans, currently Glinda in Wicked.


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