Reviewed by Paula Citron
The Gospel at Colonus
Spoleto Festival USA
Original music by Bob Telson
Book, original lyrics and direction by Lee Breuer
Starring the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Legendary Soul Stirrers, the Steeles, and the Choir of the Royal Missionary Baptist Church, North Charleston
Gaillard Municipal Auditorium
Jun. 8 to 12, 2011
It was a sense of occasion, sitting in a theatre in the deep South with an integrated audience at an all-Black gospel show.
The 1983 music theatre, The Gospel at Colonus, tackles serious matters. Sophocles’ blind Oedipus is linked to the blind poet/singer/seer that runs through American black mythology.
At Colonus, Oedipus finds his redemption.
The format of the show is a Black church sermon. Rev. Dr. Earl F. Miller, who plays the messenger, is a real life preacher. Instead of the bible, his lesson is taken from the Book of Oedipus. Bob Telson wrote the original music, and Lee Breuer wrote the book, original lyrics and directed the show.
Now a lot of the text is pretentious, and the R&B songs sound very similar, but when you have the Blind Boys of Alabama leading a talented cast of über-singers, there is nothing more exciting than a joyous Black choir at full-throttle.
The Gospel at Colonus continues at Spoleto USA until Jun. 12.