Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Two Reviews

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Two Reviews

Article excerpt

"Cotton Patch Gospel," currently at the Stage Center at the Myriad Gardens, is a remarkable production that can be viewed two ways. It can be described as an extremely moving and satisfying evening of great theatre, with powerful drama and excellent music, delightful in every way.

It also can be seen as a fascinating re-telling of the gospels of St. Matthew and St. John, set in the deep south of modern times. Harry Chapin's music is great, with the memorable songs being "Jubilation," which calls for all men to love each other as themselves; the lovely "When I Look Up"; and the finale "I Wonder," which talks of what one man's life could be worth.

There is plenty of humor, and Richard Barry, playing the roles of Jesus, Pilate, Matthew and many others, is sensational. He is a superb actor, and holds the audience enthralled, especially in the scene as Pilate and the one instituting the communion service.

When The Babe is born, the Wise Men bring an American Express card instead of gold. At the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus feeds 5,000 with "five cartons of biscuits and two cans of sardines." When he reappears after the resurrection he says "Howdy" and observes "It worked."

But the treatment is revelant and never sacreligious. The plot pokes fun at the pompous electronic minister, in the "Good Samaritan" scene, where he passes on and says "That's what we pay the highway patrol for." And the "gospel quartet" also ignores the accident, on its way to Nashville "to sign albums."

The goal is to make the story of Christ real to today's audiences, and in this it succeeds admirably. It takes the great story out of the sanctuaries and into real life, and becomes a joyous celebration. It says with the basics and it radiates with joy and with a message, while at the same time being great entertainment. One leaves the theatre with an uplifted spirit and a good feeling.

Barry, along with a quartet of musicians and actors, holds the audience breathless with his uncanny acting and mime skills. No one should miss "Cotton Patch Gospel." It has everything in abundance and reaches an emotional pitch that is spectacular. …

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