The 2014-2015 season of shows from Monmouth Players continues apace at the Navesink Arts Center — the reborn and rebranded former Navesink Library at Monmouth and Sears Avenues in Middletown — with a busier-than-ever slate of entertainments that hasn’t let a little thing like a particularly rotten winter spoil its fun. When the figurative curtain went up this past weekend on the latest community production from the long-running troupe, veteran watchers of the Players were treated to something rare indeed: a musical.
Continuing through March 22, the Players production of Godspell matches the 1971 perennial from songsmith Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) with a cast of fresh faces — many of them brand new to the Navesink company that’s been in business since before its current executive producers (Lori and Paul Renick) made their own entrances on the world stage. Based on parables from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the show that birthed the hit “Day by Day” puts forth an age-of-Aquarius message of love and tolerance via an eclectic score that ranges from folk-infused pop to vintage vaudeville — and it’s a spotlight opportunity for one prominent member of the company who’s “happy to be joining a community comprised of such fanciful characters.”
A self-described “proud-ish holder of an Associate’s degree in Liberal Education from Brookdale Community College,” AJ Melnick steps into the sandals of Jesus as a followup to not one but two recent turns as Prince Herbert in Monty Python’s Spamalot — at BCC’s Performing Arts Center, as well as in last November’s presentation by Phoenix Productions on the legendary Count Basie stage. This is also the second Godspell for the Wall Township resident, following one at Old Brick Reformed Church that “successfully raised four thousand dollars that went to keeping the doors of its hosting three-hundred-year-old church open, hopefully for another three hundred at least.”
Performances of Godspell are March 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 8:15 pm, as well as March 15 and 22 at 2 pm. Required reservations ($25) can be made by calling (732)291-2911 — and the Players’ famous spread of homemade desserts will be present at all performances inside the beautifully renovated Arts Center to sweeten the deal.