Hilltop Players shine brightly in “Godspell 2012” spectacle

By Daniel Morgan, Advertising Manager

Can I get a “Hallelujah!” Godspell 2012 debuted last night at West Liberty University’s Kelly Theatre, and boy, do the Hilltop Players have another hit on their hands.

Godspell tells the ever familiar story of Jesus Christ, played by the radiant Elijah Boyles. However, in order to avoid a simple retelling of Christ’s life, the musical by Stephen Schwartz focuses on Christ’s impact on the world and his disciples. Familiar biblical parables set the scene as Christ teaches his disciples lessons, such as The Golden Rule. The stories are acted out in a montage of contagiously soulful musical numbers, and the show masterfully transitions from joyous comedy to foreshadowed heartbreak.   

Directed by WLU theater professor Michael Aulick and biology professor Dr. Melinda Kreisberg, the entire Godspell cast put on a nearly flawless performance. Boyles perfectly embodied everything that is associated with Christ as the teacher and savior, and he deserves praise for his work.

The rest of the cast acted as a seamless ensemble, yet each actor shined in their own musical numbers and stories. I would hate to single out any one performer over another because each was equally phenomenal. Each actor could sing, dance, and harmonize beautifully with the rest. They brought soaring vocal performances, laugh-out-loud comedic narratives, sassy numbers with a lot of character, and convincing heartbreak to the table and then some. Everyone should be proud of their performance.

The entire cast includes Boyles as Jesus Christ, Nathan James as Judas/John the Baptist, Amanda Tamplen as Amanda, Chad Grubb as Chad, Brent Kimball as Brent, Brady Dunn as Brady, Geena Diomedi as Geena, Gabrielle Bennett as Gabby, Meaghan Macey as Meaghan, Elizabeth Conley as Elizabeth, Alex Franke as Alex, and Sarah Lemley as Sarah.

In cooperation with their impeccable performances was the amount of audience interaction throughout the show. With just about everything being told and sung to the audience, it felt like I was a part of the story as well. Some fun moments included audience members playing games and acting out lessons on the stage as well as an actual offering. There was also an ingenious appearance by a certain Republican presidential candidate and other pop-culture jabs, which only add to the fun.

Kelly Theatre’s set looked spectacular with graffiti walls, plenty of lights, and the impeccable attention to detail per usual of every Hilltop Players production thanks to set designer and technical director professor Meta Lasch, shop foreman Richard Deenis, and lighting designer Nathan Dunn. Lasch also designed the vibrantly fun costumes.

Located behind the actors on the stage is the smooth-styled orchestra pit led by conductor Dr. Scott Glysson. The heavenly-talented musicians included Alex Gordon, Jessica Gulisek, Ray Myers, Aaron Majiros, Rachel Krems, and Brandon Collins.

The Hilltop Players’ production of Godspell 2012 truly is larger than life. The show lasts about 90 minutes with one intermission, but you will not want it to end so soon. The only fault I found was that it was difficult to hear exactly what the actors were singing in the first song. Other than that brief moment, I thought the production was flawless.

As the academic year is coming towards its usually hectic finish, this show is the perfect distraction with its contagious gospel spirit. Godspell 2012 will continue its run in WLU’s Kelly Theatre in the Fine Arts Building at 7:30 p.m. on April 15 and 16 and at 3 p.m. on April 17. Tickets are available in the ticket office before the show, and discount tickets can be purchased here or by calling the WLU Ticket Office at (304) 336-8277. Do not miss out on this exhilarating experience that is Godspell 2012.