Act 1's second show of the season at DeSales University is the extremely entertaining and satisfying "Godspell" presented in the intimate Schubert Theatre, a perfect place for this audience-encompassing musical.

The staging of "Godspell" written by "Wicked's" Stephen Schwarz, leaves a lot open to interpretation and director Andrew Kane has crafted a clever and memorable version of this production.

The show which strings together parables and songs based on the gospel according to St. Matthew kicks off with the not-always-done prologue of "Tower of Babble" in which the actors skillfully deliver snippets of philosophies which ultimately descend into a cacophony of counterpoint.

Enter John the Baptist, played with a quiet intensity by Nick Twardzik, who sings the energizing "Prepare Ye, The Way of the Lord!" and baptizes the cast members, who react with humorous joy. When Jesus, strongly portrayed by Andrew Scoggin enters to be baptized, John is shocked but complies.godspell

Unlike many productions, Scoggin's Jesus does not wear a Superman t-shirt. Instead John helps him put on a jacket covered with patches and he then presents each approaching cast member with their own patch to signify they are followers of Jesus.

The company has a marvelous energy and connection which shines through on the songs most of which heavily incorporate the ensemble.

As Jesus, Scoggin is appealing and conveys a gentleness and conviction. He is a strong singer and especially effective on the touching "Beautiful City."

The audience is welcomed into the fold and members are brought down to play "Pictionary" and charades during one of the parables. In another scene, an audience member is asked to portray Lazarus in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. During the intermission, wine (actually juice) was offered to the audience on stage.
There are some sly references to modern day such as Facebook and Darth Vader but they aren't overdone.

In a clever scene that is definitely a highlight of the show, cast members recite the Beatitudes against a backdrop shone from an overhead projector. Cast members draw quick scenes on a transparency and then put a new one on and start over. The scene segues into the vaudevillian-flavored "All For the Best" in which the retro piece of office equipment is brilliantly used to create the feel of an old-time film strip. It works perfectly and Scoggin and Twardzik deliver on their well-sung counterpoints.

Each of the cast members get a chance to shine in a solo. Matt Wolfinger is energetic leading the cast in the upbeat "We Beseech Three;" Mackenzie Moyer is sultry in "Turn Back O Man;" Amy Rose Johnson's soprano hits the rafters in "Bless The Lord;" and Allen Marchioni demonstrates he can really wail on "All Good GIfts." On "Day By Day," the best known song from the show, Alyssa Ramsey is understated but soulful. Also turning in good perfromances are Delaney Burke, Natalie Giannotti, and Josiah Behrens.

The second act takes a more somber turn with the Last Supper reenacted as well as the crucifixion. Memorable is Twardzik, now portraying Judas, singing the haunting "On the Willows" as Jesus says goodbye to the cast members. After Jesus is taken down from the cross the company carries him out as the men sing "Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord" and the women sing "Long Live God" in a moving and very effective counterpoint.

An onstage five-piece band featuring guitar and percussion works well and cast members enhance the music with body and found object percussion.

The set is very simple and revolves around a table the cast builds from metal piping and an old door. The backdrop of a wall cut-away to reveal the wooden framing which becomes the cross on which Jesus is crucified.

This intimate, involving "Godspell" is fun, funny and ultimately heartbreaking - and definitely worth seeing.

Meet the cast and crew for a talkback after the 2 p.m. Oct. 15 show. The 2 p.m. Oct. 21 performance will feature audio descriptions for patrons who are visually impaired. Tickets are half price for patrons using these services. Call box office manager Catherine Logan at 610-282-3654, ext. 1,

"Godspell," 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 22, DeSales University, Labuda Center, Schubert Theatre, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley. Tickets: $29, adults; $27, students, Wednesdays and Thursdays; $30, adults; $28, students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 610-282-3192, desales.edu/act1.