How many Jesuses does it take to tell a story?


by Vista Kalipa

Based on a St. Matthew gospel, “Godspell,” Theatre’s Simpson’s latest production, shares a story of the last seven days of Christ’s life.

However, this will be a modernized version of his life. “We will bring the stories to a more conversational level rather than presentation theatre,” said sophomore Mandy Peters.

The Simpson College community should be prepared to get a different perspective on the life of Jesus. “Godspell” will be presented in a language and style that appeals to all, and the student cast will convey the gospel of St. Matthew in a manner that writer Stephen Schwartz knows best.

An interesting aspect of this production is that the role of Jesus Christ is rotated among the cast members and six other actors in the original script are split among the rest of the cast.

“Each member of the cast gets to play Jesus, which makes him (Jesus) more human and tangible as opposed to him being the supernatural person,” said Peters.

Director Tom Woldt said that after having done a variety of plays over the last couple of years, they found this to be a perfect opportunity to do a musical.

“We wanted something recognizable to people and also something that presents challenge to our students,” said Woldt.

Senior Samantha Pohl acknowledges the fact that working on the show has been a challenge.

“What you do at rehearsals is not enough. It takes a lot of out-of-rehearsal time. You can’t just come to the next rehearsal and just hope to wing it,” said Pohl.

An interesting aspect that Woldt brings to the show is the use of a bare stage.

“We will just have a scaffolding and that is it as far as the set goes. We want to invite the audience to use its imagination to follow the progression of each character,” said Woldt.

The cast has had considerable time to develop its roles. Members of the cast began working on this production in September, and are now starting to feel things coming together. Woldt said that he feels confident right now about the progress of the show.

In the rehearsal process, the show has also provided the cast members with a good learning experience.

“Besides getting more in-depth knowledge about acting, I’ve made a lot of new friends that I’d like to keep, and I have also grown both spiritually and as a person,” senior Samantha Pohl said.

Since its off-Broadway debut at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 1971, “Godspell” has continued to dazzle and inspire audiences. The show remains part of the repertoire in major and local theatres across the nation.

Part of the reason why the show has been a success is the music itself. Schwartz has incorporated three different genres of music into one splendid entity. He uses pop, rock and gospel and that is the kind of music that people want to hear.

The show opens Friday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and will continue to show on Nov. 16 and 17. The last performance will be Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1:00 p.m. Tickets to the show can be obtained by contacting the box office at (515) 961-1601.