Upperclassmen Take to The Stage in Godspell

Sophia Adamski, Reporter

Godspell, set to debut in late April, is a whimsical play that originally opened off Broadway in 1971. Based off the Gospel of Matthew, it features a small group of people who help Jesus tell different parables with song, storytelling, and comedic timing. Day by Day made it into the Billboard Top 100 in 1972, and Godspell is one of the most well-recognized and beloved plays in musical theatre.   

“For many years, the upperclassman shows have been straight shows- non-musicals -and the interesting thing about Godspell is that it’s a musical, which adds a new level of challenge,” says senior McKenzie James. “The other new and challenging aspect to the show is that it does revolve around the Bible, which means that as students, whether we are religious or not, we have to become familiarized with the stories we are reenacting and have to make them are own. It is important for someone to understand what they are enacting, so that we can help the audience to see past the religious aspects of the show to understand the deeper meaning of kindness, love, acceptance, and being present with those around you.”

James also thinks that the upperclassman-only factor contributes to this show in the same way that many other dynamics do. “There are many factors that go into the environment of a show and its rehearsals,” she said. “The fact that the show is entirely made up of upperclassmen does influence the environment in the sense that most of us have worked in the DHS Theatre program for years now; we have a very family-like bond. It’s wonderful to work with. It also helps because we ‘know the drill’ so to speak and are able to pull together a difficult show in a fairly short amount of time. “

Siena Widen, the scenic designer for the play, agreed that Godspell is different from other plays Troupe 1096 has put on in design as well as topic. “Aesthetically, I really wanted this set to look like it was a place of sanctuary and hope that had been destroyed and began crumbling into ruin… So I themed the design around the idea of a church. Besides the religious implications that Godspell represents, I wanted the themes of unity and friendship and security to also be present. And that’s why I decided on a church; churches are a place of religious worship and practice, but they are also a place of community and something that people build together in support of a common idea and belief.”

Widen also found issues with the set itself, and difficulty in creating it as opposed to other plays. “From a tech perspective, this show is completely different from anything we’ve done this year. Grease and The Crucible had relatively simple sets, each one relating to the time period in which they are set. Our adaptation of Godspell isn’t set in a specific time, and I also wanted the set to reflect that. I wanted the set to seem as though it was a scene frozen out of time, where a literal date or time didn’t affect it. It could be the set of Jerusalem in the B.C. Era. It could be a scene of mass destruction in World War II. It could be a bombed city in modern day Syria, destroyed in the pursuit of terrorists. This set is also a lot bigger and more elaborate than the others this year. I wasn’t willing to forfeit detail and symbolism simply because it was going to be difficult. It’s a very large set with lots of small details that all symbolize something in life, and I wasn’t willing to lose any of it. This set also literally represents the bringing together of ideas and beliefs in order to create a space that everyone is influenced by.”

Godspell premieres April 27th.