A DIXIE GOSPEL by Harry Chapin, Tom Key and Russell Treyz, directed by Dennis Hassell, with Kevin Aichele, Fergus Marsh, Jeanine Noyes, Aaron Solomon and Arthur Wachnik. Presented by Brookstone Performing Arts at the Walmer Theatre Centre (1881/2 Lowther). Runs to March 16, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 3 pm. $16.50-$29.50, Tuesday $10 (stu). 416-922-1238 ext 2401. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Shouldn't a musical about the life and times of Jesus set in rural 1950s Georgia feature a black actor in the role of Jesus? Or at the very least a multiethnic cast? Otherwise, what's the point?But A Dixie Gospel, inspired by The Cottonpatch Gospels, by Clarence Jordan (who founded an interracial farm in Georgia in 1942), comes with other credentials -- namely, songs by Harry Chapin.
Chapin's novelty songs -- with titles like Ain't No Busy Signal On The Hotline To God -- form the solid backbone of this show. Jeanine Noyes's musical direction brings out the tunes' infectious harmonies, and the cast picks, plucks and croons with panache.
Despite the odd too-cute downhome detail in the book and the missed political opportunity in the casting, the show comes alive in several haunting tableaux that are nicely staged by director Dennis Hassell. email@example.com