The musical "Godspell," with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, who later composed "Wicked," made its debut in 1971. Forty-three years later, it's being brought to the stage in the Fox Valley by Spotlight Youth Theater Aurora.
The show opens Thursday, May 22, and continues through Sunday, May 25, at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre.
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If you goWhat: Spotlight Youth Theater Aurora's production of "Godspell"
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 22-25
Where: Batavia Fine Arts Centre, 1201 Main St., Batavia (entrance on Wilson)
Tickets: $9-$12 in advance; add $2 at the door
Details: (847) 516-2298 or www.spotlight.org
Based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, "Godspell" is structured as a series of parables and features a string of well-known hits, including "Day by Day," "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord," "All for the Best," "All Good Gifts," "Light of the World" and "By My Side."
The Daily Herald caught up with Kristi Wright of Wheaton, director of "Godspell," to find out more about the production. Wright has been working with Spotlight for more than six years, and "Godspell" with be her 13th show with the company.
Q. Why was "Godspell" chosen for your spring musical?
Kristi Wright. "Godspell" is a show with great humor, incredibly fun and memorable music (anyone remember "Day by Day?"), and an amazing and powerful message that is so important for anyone to hear. The overarching message of love seen in "Godspell" is a very large part of Spotlight's mission. It is quite exciting for us to be able to share such a strong message through this production.
Q. What have been some of the challenging aspects of getting this production together?
Wright. One of the biggest challenges with this show is asking young actors to basically re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The setting of the show may be very different to what actually may have happened, however, the concept is the same.
These followers of Jesus eventually turn and betray the one they love. This is a very difficult task to perform onstage, no matter how old you are or what you may believe. The cast members have been very mature about the matter and have handled this heavy, dramatic scene with an incredible amount of respect and love. The result is quite powerful.
Q. What have been some of the most rewarding aspects?
Wright. It has been thrilling to watch the passion that these young actors have for theater. The talent that is in this cast is remarkable, and it has been a joy to work with all 94 of these actors from day one.
They strive to make everything perfect, and it is refreshing to see them grow in their acting, dancing, and singing skills, as well as their everyday lives. If you come and see this show, I promise, you will be impressed with these kids.
Q. What do you think the audiences will like best, or will be pleasantly surprised by?
Wright. There are so many aspects of this show that are so fun to watch. There are so many great songs, such as "Day by Day," "O Bless The Lord," "Light of the World," "We Beseech Thee," and many more that may be quite familiar.
With the fun, improvisational elements of the scenes, you never know what you will see next. The audience may enjoy a little modern twist on a few stories, as well as a little bit of Western, Vaudeville, and perhaps even a little "Three Stooges."
If I had to name one song to watch out for, that would be the opening number. Many productions of "Godspell" have taken out the song "Prologue/Tower of Babble" because of its difficulty. Not only have these performers met this challenge, but they perform it with excellence.
Because of its musical complexity, the attention to detail, dramatic lighting, and a little help from some top-notch dancers, audience members will want to make sure that they get to the theater on time for the first number.
Q. Anything else you want readers to know about Spotlight's "Godspell?"
Wright. So many of us are very familiar with stories, such as "The Good Samaritan," "The Prodigal Son," and "The Passion of the Christ," but it is really refreshing to come and learn these stories again from the prospective of someone who is hearing them for the first time.