The FSC theatre department is currently performing Godspell, directed by James Beck, head of the Department of Theatre & Dance, and musically directed by Christianne Roll, head of the Musical Theatre program. The show dates are Feb. 17-20 and 24-27 in Loca Lee Buckner Theatre.
Godspell is a show conceived and directed by John-Michael Tebelak, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Godspell follows Jesus Christ and his followers, in which they reenact parables and scenes from Jesus’ life through song and dance to learn various lessons. The score includes modern musical influences including rock, gospel, and reggae.
At FSC, Beck wanted the cast to be themselves in their characters and think about how they would react to a modern-day Jesus. In his director’s note in the playbill, Beck described the colorful set to be inspired by the joy of the real characters and their child-like reception of Jesus.
“This is a production with that joy in mind, and we hope that you will leave feeling fulfilled, child-like, and joyous, and take life ‘Day by Day’,” Beck said.
The rehearsal process was very different for most of the cast. Much of the show is improv, meaning that actors’ lines are created themselves and are unscripted. So, every show is different in that not all the lines are coming straight from the script.
“The rehearsal process was not only a lot of fun, but educational, explorative, and challenging in the best way,” cast member Giselle Meyer, playing the role of Morgan, said. “The parables of the show were created by the cast, our director, Jim, took a chance on us to play such a large role in giving the show a completely new meaning to us and essentially portraying ourselves onstage, and I think it turned out really beautifully.”
“It’s funny every time because you can just focus on someone new and get new jokes,” cast member Reagan Branch, ensemble member said.
This production of Godspell was choreographed by Tatiana Erikson, who was also the choreographer of FSC’s Fall 2021 production of Songs for a New World. A major part of her choreography in this show included ASL to make the show more accessible to others while also touching on social issues through sign language.
“Tatiana brought so much subtext to the work of Stephen Schwartz with her ability to share so much passion and love with the audience (and each other) while making sure each cast member felt 100% comfortable in each number,” Meyer said. “Working with her was even more special to me as I had the opportunity to be dance captain of the production and was allowed to experience just a little bit of her responsibility and origin of choreography.”
Taking on the biggest role of the show was Luis Antonio Guzman Glados, playing Jesus. Throughout his time playing such a significant character, he has had a great experience that included challenges and new lessons learned along the way. During the second week of rehearsals, he suffered an injury, but he was able to preserve and continue pursuing his role.
“Playing Jesus has been such a challenging and incredible experience, being able to play such an iconic character and find a way to make it different from the other performances I’ve seen and make it true to myself, has been such a journey that I’m extremely grateful,” Galdos said.
The cast and crew learned an abundance throughout their time working on this production that has helped them as artists.
“I feel like I have improved in my ensemble skills. I was so used to having a director tell me blocking and just doing it,” Branch said. “Now I feel like I can put my own input and ideas into a character and work with my fellow castmates so much more fluidly.”
“This show has pushed my physical boundaries more than I imagined it would, it’s a lot of intense dance numbers, tricks, lifts, and more,” Meyer said. “It has improved me as an artist and made me learn how to produce performances that were up to the expectations I hold for myself while also being able to attend all of my classes, make time for my friends, and keep myself physically intact and able to give each show and run my 100 percent.”
“Artistically I’ve been able to grow so much, as an actor it has been very interesting to explore Jesus’ emotions and it has been challenging to start the show very happily and with a lot of energy and finish it totally opposite,” Galdos said. “Emotionally this show has taught me a lot since I suffered from an injury during the second week of blocking; this taught me so much perseverance and how big was the support system from the director James Beck, music director Christianne Roll, and my friends, especially the Jesus understudy Jack Sobel, and Rachael Baldwin.”
Godspell is gearing up for its second weekend of performances. The first weekend went well for the cast and crew, and it was very well received by audience members.
“I think there’s something in the show for everyone, it’s a message of love, community, and hope, which I think is something we all could use a little more of,” Meyer said. “Other than that, the music is stunning, they’re classics- so many people of all ages know them and they’re paired with Tatiana’s beautiful choreography, there’s never a dull moment.”
“People should come and see Godspell, because you’re going to have a good time listening to good and catchy songs, with a cast that has so much fun on stage, love each other, spreading a message of love to everyone,” Galdos said.
“It was an amazing and very fun show, it really showcased the creativity of the department and the design talent of the tech majors,” freshman Delaney Thurston said. “I absolutely recommend everyone see the show, and if you’ve already seen it, it’s a different experience every night.”
After Godspell, there will be FSCdance’s “Em/bodied” on March 25 and 26 in Branscomb Auditorium, and The Diary of Anne Frank on April 7-10 and 14-17 in Loca Lee Buckner Theatre.