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Students put on musical Godspell this weekend

Tomorrow night, the fall musical Godspell will debut in the Ray Day Little Theatre. Fall musical? Yes, thanks to the Musical Theatre Production Class, students have the opportunity to present a musical in November. The cast is smaller as is the venue, but audiences will still be highly entertained by this musical retelling of the Gospel of Matthew.

Unlike the spring musical, most rehearsals are held during class time. Most of the performances will be this weekend, with show times tomorrow through Saturday at 7:00 p.m. with a 2:00 matinee on Saturday as well. Next week, Deanery sixth graders will be treated to a special performance during the school day.

The cast is looking forward to demonstrating their hard work over the semester. Senior Brinley Prather, a member of the ensemble, said she found it was easier to fit the show intro her schedule by being able to rehearse during the school day. Junior Olivia Hall agrees, adding that she liked how the cast was able to help each other learn the music in the show.

Brinley is looking forward to entertaining audiences with the music, which is full of energy. “They’re songs you can really get into, and they have a lot of emotion in them,” she said.

Photos by Jennifer (Bartley) Dunn ’94

Senior Andrew Bittenbender, who portrays Jesus, also loves the music. “It’s some of the best music in any show, especially with the 2012 revival edition that we are doing,” he said. “It’s really energetic and hard not to move to.”

Senior Eli Lucas has a dual role as John the Baptist and Judas, the only other named parts in the cast. He said he likes the range of emotions in the show, which starts out upbeat in the first act, but by the second act and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the mood turns somber. He also enjoyed the dancing, which ranges from tap and jazz to rock and burlesque. “The dancing is so much fun,” Eli said.

Olivia said her dancing improved a lot over the semester, with Mrs. Amy Delaney teaching the choreography, and singing in four-part harmony has strengthened her vocal talents as well. That practice will help when rehearsals for the spring musical begin. “I’ve grown a lot,” she said.

Andrew said that playing the role of Jesus has helped him grow as an actor as well. He initially struggled with how to portray Jesus. “I mean, you’re playing God,” he said.

So many people have a different image of and relationship with Jesus, not only the characters in the show but those in the audience as well, he said. Some see him as a strong figure in their life, while others struggle with their relationship with him. He questioned whether he was genuine or caring enough in his portrayal as well. But he finally found the right mindset.

“I realized you’re never going to be able to please everyone,” he said. “By trying to capture his genuine loving spirit, that will allow people to put their interpretation of Jesus into that character.”
And he believes that the lyrics in the musical will also help the audience understand the true message of the show – and of Jesus.

“It’s another way to get the Gospel message outside of that church environment,” he said. “It’s great for people who might not go to Mass because they can still get that same message.”

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