PULLMAN, Wash. — Stephen Schwartz’s “Godspell,” the third and final show
for this year’s Pullman Summer Palace season, opens Thursday evening and
runs this weekend and next, July 20-22, July 27-29, on the Washington State
University campus.

Performances are nightly at 8 p.m. in Daggy Hall’s Jones Theatre.

Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, the off-beat musical was one
of Schwartz’s earliest successful scores. He went on to write music and lyrics
for a string of Broadway hits, including “Pippin” and “Children of Eden.”
Before going on to provide the music for a number of Disney-animated
features, including “Pocahontas” and the “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” he also
wrote the music and lyrics for “The Prince of Egypt.”

While the music remains unchanged, director George Caldwell has purged the
play of much of its 1970s camp, set the action in a three-ring circus big top and
cast the parts of Jesus and his disciples from a talented group of actors with
uniformly well-trained voices.

Just as in a circus, the band is an integral part of the show and the small
rock-combo shares the stage with the actors providing
make-you-want-to-dance music to accompany the show’s hit numbers such as
“Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” “Day by Day,” “Oh Bless the Lord My
Soul” and the satiric “All for the Best.” It is unlikely that even the most cynical
will be able to get through the second act’s “Long Live God” without being
moved.

“The play can be enjoyed at many levels,” said Caldwell. “For the theologically
minded, it’s a thought-provoking examination of lessons that we all struggle to
learn. For people who enjoy good music, there is plenty to sing and dance
about. If that isn’t enough, the show is a visual spectacle with nearly non-stop
action.”

The play completes a successful season for Summer Palace, organizers report.
“Tintypes,” directed by Julie Wieck, began the ambitious season, receiving a
standing ovation on opening night and with much demand for later
performances. Phyllis Gooden-Young’s lively production of “Charlotte’s
Webb” met with equal success last week, with sellout performances for its
evening and special children’s matinees.

Theatergoers are encouraged to purchase tickets early. Adult tickets are $8;
senior citizens, $6; and students/children, $4. The Summer Palace ticket office
in Daggy Hall is open daily from noon-4 p.m. and can be reached by calling
509/335-7236.

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