The Gospel at Colonus, Goodman Theatre

Goodman Theatre Mainstage, Chicago
June 18 – August 12, 1990

Critical Response

“Filled with joyous song and story performed by more than 60 singers and actors raising their voices in a triumphant celebration of the human spirit, this “Gospel“ is a liberating, uplifting experience that seems to stem directly from the heart of its cast. The surge of all-out enthusiasm does indeed sweep the show along, but this sense of freedom also is grounded in a highly sophisticated theatrical technique and is based on a deeply intellectual and scholarly premise. . . .Lee Breuer, who adapted the text and directed the production, and Bob Telson, the composer, have based their passionate work on the belief that there is a direct link between the rituals of ancient Greek tragedy and the patterns of the African-American church service. . . .Chicago`s own wealth of talent has brought to the production the performances of ‘Pops’ Staples, superbly sly as the wicked, guitar-picking King Creon; the soloist Shari A. Seals, the actors Catherine Slade, Johnny Lee Davenport and Terrence A. Carson, . . . To them all belong the artistry and the exultation of this great ‘Gospel.’”
—Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune (June 20, 1990)

“The Gospel at Colonus fuses the religious and musical-theatrical rituals of the ancient Greeks and modern African Americans. The show succeeds wildlyand I do mean wildly, for nothing I have ever seen in 30 years of attending and working in the theater has ever matched the sense of exalted release that The Gospel at Colonus produces in its audiences. . . . Some first-rate actors are in the castamong them Robert Earl Jones (James Earl’s father), Johnny Lee Davenport, Catherine Slade, and Terrence A. Carson; a great deal of the show’s pleasure lies in watching them play leaders of the church taking on Sophoclean roles. Their performances are sometimes awkward, sometimes wonderfulalways the result of careful craftsmanship from these very fine actors.”
—Albert Williams, Chicago Reader (June 28, 1990)

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