Godspell finishes run at Cornerstone

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  • The "Godspell" Cornerstone Playhouse cast poses on stage with DirectorJanine Byrnes, first row on right.

  • PHOTOS BY VERA OLINSKIGodspell 2012 Broadway revival producer Eliot Sash shows photos of singing "Light of the World" in the original New York road company.

VERNON — A talented cast of nine artists showcased, on Saturday, Oct. 7, the 2012 revival version of “Godspell” in live theater at the Cornerstone Playhouse, of Sussex with lighthearted joy and energy, they poignantly presented the eternal truths of the parables, life, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Parable after parable, the cast carried the audience away with soaring, clear floating tones and incredible harmonies reverberating throughout the historic theater. They sang memorable 1970s show songs like: “Prepare Ye (The Way of The Lord),” “Save the People, ” “Day by Day,” “Learn Your Lessons Well,” “O Bless the Lord My Soul,” “All Good Gifts,” “We Beseech Thee,” and “All for the Best,” with Jesus, Cary Lawson, and company tap dancing, including the epic line, “Someone's got to be oppressed!”

In the classic “By My Side,” talented voices gave chills of beautiful, longing harmonies with acoustical guitar. In the midst of the song, actress Marivelle Clavel-Davis reminded, “From that moment, he [Judas] began to search for an opportunity to betray Him.”

Director and artistic director Janine Byrnes poignantly challenged the audience “to come like a child and listen as if it were the first time.”

She also included nice touches like Jesus blessing the bread and wine in Hebrew.

Choreographer Jana Byrnes incorporated intricate choreography, while her voice also soared with cast members Tim Chenard, Lauren DeVore and Nick Napolitano.

Music Director Thomas Silkowski led a live band, and his singing talents were also incorporated in “On the Willows” with Tommy Wright and Lottie Elsasser, as their voices powerfully floated over and throughout the audience.

Byrnes said one thing unique about the Cornerstone Playhouse is opening the door to all kinds of new talent in the area, from New York City, to the greater Sussex County area. Not only are they great performers, she said, they are also dedicated to the craft, doing all their own scenic and lighting design. She added, she is just so thrilled to be working in the Sussex theater.

Marketing and PR representative Tim Mullally said the charming, 100 year-old theater, is “Where you feel like you are right on stage in any seat in the house.” His comments proved true during the Saturday evening show when cast member Juliana Wardle sang, “Turn Back, O Man,” asked him, “This seat taken?” and then proceeded to sit on his lap, to much laughter.

Topping off the Saturday show, 2012 Broadway revival producer and original seventies touring company member Eliot Sash viewed the performance. During intermission, Sash fondly remembered and showed photos of singing “Light of the World” in the original New York road company. He explained, as one of the producers of the 2012 revival, he tries to see as many productions as he can.

Regarding the 2012 Broadway Revival, Sash continued, Davenport Enterprises contacted every cast member over the past 40 years to put the show together. He added, they had a total of 700 people “somewhere in the family of Godspell,” raising $5 million, costing $3.5 million, and running the show in the round for nine months.

For more information regarding live theater in Sussex County, see: cornerstonetheatrenj.org.

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