Spellbound by ‘Godspell’

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Travis Martin (center) portrays  Jesus in "Godspell".  In the back from left to right is Amanda Serra, Wendy Jo Cox and Brian Losoya as Judas. (Courtesy Photo)

Travis Martin (center) portrays Jesus in “Godspell”. In the back from left to right is Amanda Serra, Wendy Jo Cox and Brian Losoya as Judas. (Courtesy Photo)

By ART RODRIGUEZ

If you were like me as a child, Sunday School ran the gamut from exciting to the mundane. However, I was never taught the parables from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in quite the way “Godspell” by the Austin Theatre Project re-enacts them.

First opened on Broadway in 1971, “Godspell” tells bible stories with a definite hippie bent without being disrespectful to the content or audience. Indeed, a re-telling of the parables through song re-invigorates one’s excitement in them.

The Austin Theatre Project stages “Godspell” at the Doughtery Arts Center in Austin with an impressive cast of talent. On a rather sparse stage, the cast utilizes every inch to raucously tell bible stories including, the baptizing of Jesus, the Good Samaritan, Lazarus and the rich man, the Sower of the Seeds, the Prodigal Son, the Story of Noah, and finally the Last Supper and Crucifixion.

Fortunately, the cast approaches each subject with energy, innocence and vigor. As Jesus, Travis Martin simply delights. Martin’s performance inspires the audience to re-examine stories and relate them to circumstances today. His voice and acting skill bring depth to the character that leaves audiences wanting more.

ATP is fortunate to have such a strong ensemble to support Martin. Wendy Jo Cox sings like a songbird. When given the opportunity, her solos are moving and gripping. The delightful Adam Munoz simply brought the house down with “We Beseech Thee.” Munoz’ skills as a singer and actor are underutilized in this production. Hearing him sing is worth the price of admission. Amanda Serra brings a soulful sound to her solos. Hopefully Central Texas will hear her vocal styling for years to come.

ATP’s production of “Godpsell” runs through August 31 at the Dougherty Arts Center. People of all ages are encouraged to attend.

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