by Robert Hinds
Immanuel Schools’ Music Department proudly presents Stephen Schwartz’ Godspell, a contemporary look at Jesus and his disciples according to the gospel of Matthew. The musical will be presented in ten performances November 10-18. Tickets are $10 Adults, $7 Students/Seniors.
The Tony nominated score for Godspell features music and lyrics by Academy and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (writer of the Broadway musical Wicked), and features instantly recognizable hits including “Prepare Ye,” “Day by Day,” “Learn Your Lessons Well,” “Light of the World” and many more.
What is Godspell? “It’s essentially Jesus’ teaching, if Jesus were to have come today, rather than 2000 years ago, but into a high school,” said Senior Cody Fedor.
The cast begins the show on a busy street under construction in a major metropolitan city.Business professionals, blue collar workers & homeless people – all adults who have “grown-up” – each dogmatically expressing their beliefs about God, based on the teachings of philosophers and religious leaders of different faiths. John the Baptist arrives, exclaiming: “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” inviting all to be baptized. The cast abandons their false teachings and renews their child-like faith, flashing back to their earlier selves when they were stereotypical students. The actors play a range of characters from Hipsters, Jocks, Artsy kids and Nerds, to Skater Punks, Scene kids, Cowboys and Brainiacs. Just a typical All-American high school!
This production of Godspell features an urban-industrial set. No curtains, backdrops, or greenery — All of the “typical” theatre set elements have been stripped, leaving only scaffolding, pallets, garbage cans, chain-link fencing, ladders and a Chevy S10 truck! It is with these simple props that the cast brings the story to life. “These stories are told in kind of a silly but fun way so that you get the point of Jesus’ teachings,” said Junior Caleb Robbins, portraying the role of Jesus. “It’s especially fun in the first half. The second act actually gets a lot more serious.”
“It’s different then any show I have ever done, we use a lot more improvisation,” said Fedor, when asked about the style of the show.
“My favorite thing about the show is the random little ‘improvs’ that we get to do,” said Senior Ashley Robbins.
Senior David Unruh likes the Kindergarten scene. “Jesus tells us to act like 5 year olds, and we all run around and laugh and dance and fall down. It’s a pretty fun scene!”
“My favorite song is ”All for the Best,’ said Senior Viv Vasquez. “I like how fast it goes and the tap dancing. Angela and Kami do a really great job.”
Some of the casts’ favored parts of Godspell are rather unexpected. Senior Zak Kawagoe said, “My favorite thing is definitely my outfit! And if you want to see it, you’ll have to come to the show!”
“My favorite part of the show,” said Senior Ethan Hoff, “has got to be slapping Zak in the face!”
Other than the role of Jesus (played by Caleb Robbins), the rest of the ensemble cast simply uses their own names. The 23-member cast includes:
Seniors: Ashley Robbins, Zak Kawagoe, Selah McFall, Leslie Miller, Janel Ensz, David Unruh, Shandon Ledbetter, Shae Tartaglia, Viviana Vasquez, Angela Hammond, Austin Berry, Sam Isaak, Cody Fedor, Ethan Hoff.
Juniors: Caleb Robbins (Jesus), Evan Bakker, Esther Bucher, Malia Hoff.
Sophomores: Kami Hinds, Megan Fox, Christian Reed, Alden Bettencourt, Wesley Bucher
Godspell is directed by Immanuel Performing Arts teacher Rick Robbins. The Production Team includes Scenic Design by Joel Fedor, Set Construction by Jacob Hayhurst, Technical Assistance by Randy Tucker and Jeremy Paul, Graphic Design/Production Assistance by John Schlesselman. Live accompaniment for the show will be provided by the band from Flipside Christian Church, where director Rick Robbins serves as worship leader. The Worship Pastor of Fresno First Baptist, Bryan Hitch, and Immanuel Music Assistant, John Schlesselman will be featured on keyboards.
There are 10 Performances – November 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, & 18 at 7 p.m., plus Matinees November 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 Adults, $7 Students/Seniors.
The show is being staged at the Immanuel School’s Performing Arts Chapel. Doors will open 30 minutes before show time. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door. To purchase advance tickets, visit the school office, located at 1128 S. Reed Avenue or call (559) 638-2529