A contemporary twist on the popular Broadway musical “Godspell” comes to the stage of Lawrence University’s Stansbury Theatre Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
Performances of the musical by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak are at 8 p.m. each night with an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 1. Tickets, at $15 for adults and $8 for students and seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.
The two-act production presents the Gospel of Matthew in musical parables. It follows the last days in the life of Jesus Christ and culminates in the second act with his betrayal by Judas and his crucifixion.
Originally inspired by theologian Harvey Cox’s 1968 Playboy Magazine article that featured an image of a laughing Jesus, “Godspell” has enjoyed numerous interpretations and treatments since its Broadway premiere in 1971.
Lawrence’s production will feature a contemporary setting and include “a larger exploration of art around religious subjects and stories through the centuries using a wide variety of artistic expression, including music, dance, storytelling, costumes and visual art,” said director Timothy Troy, professor of pheatre arts and the J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama.
“Throughout Western history, the best musicians, visual artists, dancers, poets and dramatists addressed our collective relationship with our faith traditions through the arts,” said Troy. “All art making, whether sacred or secular, is an act of faith.”
This production will feature the 2012 revision of the score, which according to Troy, “explores a much wider variety of musical styles than the original, and features far more ensemble singing than the 1971 Broadway production and the 1973 film adaptation.”
Maggie Ward, a senior from Wausau, calls the show’s music “stunning.”
“A lot of it was rewritten for the 2012 Broadway revival and some of the songs have had a drastic tone change compared to the original show,” said Ward. “One of the biggest changes is ‘Beautiful City,’ which has been altered into an absolutely gorgeous ballad.”
Ward has the honor of singing the show’s best-known song, “Day by Day.”
“It’s a little daunting to be performing a song that is so popular and that has a lot of meaning for people, but I’m also very excited,” said Ward.
Monica Rodero, associate artistic director of the Milwaukee-based Wild Space Dance Company, choreographed the production.
“Monica’s deep background in collaborative production and modern dance brings a wide range of movement and gestural style seldom seen in traditional production of ‘Godspell,’” said Troy.
Phillip Swan, associate professor of music and co-director of choral studies, is the show’s musical director. Theatre arts department members Keith Pitts, Karin Kopischke and Aaron Sherkow designed the set, costumes and lightening, respectively, for the production.
About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.