UW-Sheboygan to stage contemporary version of Godspell
University Theatre production takes stage March 29-April 1
If there were two words that could sum up the spirit and essence of the popular Broadway musical Godspell, it would be "deceivingly complex."
This popular musical, based on the Book of Matthew in the New Testament, will come to life at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan this spring thanks to the efforts of a unique blend of UW-Sheboygan students and community performers, including area high school students.
"This is the most talented group of performers I've ever had the privilege of directing," said Prof. Simon Provan, UW-Sheboygan University Theatre Director. "What's really exciting about this group is the mix of students and community members involved in the production. Such a group helps to fulfill one of the main missions of University Theatre, bringing together both the campus community at UW-Sheboygan and Sheboygan area residents."
The cast of 11 will delight audiences with a contemporary and updated version of the Broadway classic, complete with all the memorable and upbeat music that Godspell has become known for.
The UW-Sheboygan version will forgo the famous chain-link stage design seen in many other Godspell productions in favor of a wood shop classroom designed by local set designer Mary Whitehurst of Sheboygan. Also, instead of 1970s costuming, University Theatre actors will be sporting more contemporary clothing with a nod to the '70s, compliments of costume designer Tiffany Decker of Manitowoc.
"While many productions of Godspell try to replicate the original set design, we have decided to put our own spin on the design concept, and while honoring the score of the original 1976 Broadway production, our music director, Lisa Golda, has helped create a more contemporary sound to the songs," Provan said. "I strongly believe audience members will enjoy the story in its entirety, from the way the story is told to the way the performers have refreshed the sound of the beautiful songs of the Godspell."
Godspell debuted in 1971 and since that debut has continued to be one of the most beloved musicals in theatre, partly due to the underlying meaning to many of the spoken words in the play. The play also honors the Christian gospel message, yet brings a sense of immediacy to today's audiences, no matter their religious affiliation, Provan added.
"Though it uses the gospel as a catalyst, you need not be a Christian to enjoy the story. In fact, Stephen Schwartz, the show's creator, is Jewish," Provan said. ""Ultimately, the show is about coming together as a community and staying together no matter the circumstances. As the story comes to its conclusion, we witness a community that has to deal with an incredibly tragic event, yet remain hopeful, and perhaps stronger, as they celebrate what is to come."
Provan said that it was Godspell's inspiring story and music that attracted him to the adding it to University Theatre's spring program.
"I enjoy directing shows that have a core message yet allow the production to effectively relay that message via the production team's interpretation," he said. "And here is a show that not only allows us to do that, but a show that is also very entertaining and has some well-known songs. Even if people have never heard of Godspell before, they more than likely have heard some of the songs from the show."
For example, "Day by Day," one of the most popular songs from Godspell, reached #13 on the Billboard charts in 1972. In 2000, the film Meet the Parents included a scene where the main character, played by Ben Stiller, recites the refrain from the song as a dinner prayer. The song was also performed in the 2001 satire Wet Hot American Summer, and in 1995, the song was given a new rock arrangement by the Christian rock band, DC Talk.
Support from area audiences is absolutely critical to the growth of area students pursuing an education in theatre and stage performance, Provan said.
"It is absolutely incumbent upon me to produce a range of shows that introduce my students to the types of theatre they will experience in the professional theatre world," Provan said. "I want University Theatre audiences to know that whether it is a musical they come to see or a play, either classical or contemporary, they will experience a show that is thought-provoking, interesting and, of course, entertaining."
Performances of Godspell will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31 and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 in the UW-Sheboygan Fine Arts Theatre on the UW-S campus. Tickets are $10 for the general public; $5 for students, and FREE to all UW-Sheboygan students with current IDs.
All seating is general admission. Tickets can be purchased in advance in the UW-Sheboygan Business Services Office Monday-Friday or by calling the UW-Sheboygan Box Office at (920) 459-6652. Tickets also will be available at the show up to one hour before show time. Provan also invites area residents to contact him directly with any questions about the production at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UW-Sheboygan campus is located at One University Drive, just off Taylor Drive (between Indiana and Union avenues). The Fine Arts Theater is located adjacent to the East Parking Lot.
- Godspell Cast & Crew
- Jesus - *Keane Xavier, Sheboygan
- John/Judas - Zach Pledl, Sheboygan, Community Member
- *Micah Kautzman, Sheboygan
- *Sarah Huebner, Ootsburg
- Danielle Rammer, Sheboygan, student at Lakeland College
- *Courtney Lonergan, Plymouth
- Sebastian Palmer, Sheboygan, Home-Schooled Student (has peformed professionally with First Stage Children's Theatre)
- Casey Campbell, Sheboygan, student at Sheboygan North High School
- *Marielle Schuchardt, Sheboygan
- Matt Rickmeier, Sheboygan, student at Sheboygan North High School
- *Ashley Turnquist, Belgium
- Music Director - Lisa Golda, Plymouth
- Stage Manager -- *Dezeray Hansen, Sheboygan
- Asst. Stage Manager -- *Jay Thao, Sheboygan
- Lighting Designer -- *Austin Weber, Sheboygan
- Set Designer - Mary Whitehurst, Sheboygan
- Costume Designer - Tiffany Decker, Manitowoc
- Director - Simon Provan
*= UW-Sheboygan student