The Wesleyan Wolf Players are proud to present the classic musical Godspell premiering Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. and closing Friday, Oct. 28.
Although the Wolf Players have performed Godspell previously in 2002 and 2009, Wesleyan has never seen this upcoming rendition. Director Steven Broyles explains that the version performed in 2009 was the original Broadway version, and the adaptation they are rehearsing now is the 2012 revival version. With rewritten music that sounds more modern, the musical is able to better resonate with adolescent audiences.
Senior Eulaya Erb described Godspell as “the Gospel… but in comedy and musical form, which can make it easier to relate to or understand.” The lyrics are similar to many traditional hymns, but the music style itself ranges from modern pop to upbeat gospel to folk rock.
The purpose of Godspell is to give a fresh take on the Gospel, while conveying accurate Biblical facts and stories. Freshman Rachel McFarland said, “it’s so easy for people to read the Gospel as a repetitive and boring story, but I hope that Godspell [will be able to present] the Gospel in a different way that makes people think about what they have seen.”
Another way Godspell stands out has to do with students taking on more responsibility and leadership in the theater program. Even though they will not be seen on stage opening night, choreographer Maguire Wilder, stage manager Madeline Benfield and assistant stage manager Matthew Stainback are actively involved in the rehearsal process and production of this show.
Director Steven Broyles said, “when students take ownership… it makes it a better show.” This is the first time senior Maguire Wilder has choreographed an entire musical autonomously, and Broyles has granted her some directorial freedom as well.
Erb said having her peers in charge “opens up more of a connection between the cast and our peers, and we can form closer relationships with them while they are directing us.”
When asked if he likes having aspects of the show led entirely by older students, freshman Adam Rogers said Wilder can “relate to [the cast] and knows [their] capabilities as a fellow high schooler.” Freshman Emily Kelly said seeing older students take responsibility “makes [her] want to get involved even more [in] the theater program.”
The significant steps the theater department is taking this year are unprecedented, but junior Grayson Ragsdale shows they are still keeping their focus in the right place when she said, “everything we do up on stage is all for the glory of God.”
When asked the reason why Wesleyan would perform this show again, Broyles said, “students should get the opportunity to be in… classic shows [like Godspell], so we bring them back.” Musical director Brock Derringer added that it also “gives the directors a second change to improve upon what they did for the other shows.”
When asked if he thinks this will be the last time Wesleyan will present Godspell, Broyles said he thinks “Wesleyan will always want to stage Godspell.”