On the left at a slight distance, a group of actors crouch with their arms outstretched. A Black man with his arms stretched to the side stands before them. On the right front, another Black man gestures with his arms in front of him toward the group. They are wearing bright clothes reminiscent of the 1960s.
Godspell at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre Credit: Whitney Rhodes

Every piece of art has a timeliness. When it is born and put into the world, it becomes part of its identity for better or worse. For Godspell, that time has come and gone. First staged in 1971, this musical by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak is painfully dated. That cannot be fixed no matter how many contemporary references are crammed into this show, which only make it feel older than it is. Those references are by design, a way to keep the material fresh and timeless, but the opposite occurs. When the music itself is stuck in a certain time, the quips are awkward.

Godspell
Through 7/31: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 7 PM; Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, 721 Howard, Evanston, 773-939-4101, theo-u.com, $42-$54 (three-course meal from La Cocinita available for $29 per person)

The heavenly voices of Theo Ubique’s angelic ensemble (directed by Christopher Pazdernik) cannot resurrect this relic. Godspell is more akin to a youth church camp musical improv showcase than traditional musical—even Jesus Christ Superstar feels young compared to this tired work.

A series of biblical parables set to flower-child rock opera, this “Baby Shark” infested musical makes for a long two-hour runtime. Which is really too bad because the performers and musicians (led by musical director Jeremy Ramey) are undeniably talented. But Godspell doesn’t have much of a plot to hold on to other than the loosely tied parable strings.

Laz Estrada’s soothing melodies paired with Austin Nelson Jr.’s range could save more souls than one could count. Even so, Godspell has lost its magic. Certain audiences may find themselves spellbound, but this boring, preachy musical is likely to have its nonbelievers.