Every other year, the Northwestern theatre and music departments collaborate to produce a main stage musical. This year it’s an exciting production of “Godspell,” featuring rock music, storytelling, dance and the Gospel of Matthew.
Director and theatre professor Jeff Barker is passionate about the musical’s message.
“‘Godspell’ is the story of Jesus’ life from baptism to resurrection, focusing on Jesus as teacher through stories,” Barker said. “It’s not making fun of Christ, but capturing the joy and the spirit of Christ.”
He adds that though the musical is based on the Gospel of Matthew, it isn’t a verbatim biblical text.
“It has versions and paraphrases of the stories within the script,” Barker said. “It is…more like the marvelous animated ‘Prince of Egypt’ than the actual Bible stories.”
A strong sense of joy and fun pervades the musical as a whole, but it has its powerful moments, too.
“I was just really struck by the crucifixion and the resurrection and how important those are through this process,” said cast member Abigail Stoscher. “Of course all the rest of Jesus’ ministry is important, and that was what I was focusing on. And then just acting during the crucifixion scene just made it really real to me…how much he went to for us. And how shocking it would have been for his disciples.”
“Godspell” has provided several opportunities for members of the cast, crew and band to get involved with something new. Stoscher has been in NW shows before, but this is her first musical.
“I’ve always really wanted to be in a musical, so this is really great,” Stoscher said. “Dancing and singing on stage is always so much fun.”
Cast member Jake Ven Huizen has been involved in both high school and community theatre, but this is his first production at NW.
“Personally what I’ve enjoyed about being in this is getting to know people outside of my department,” Ven Huizen said. “I think it’s a very fun show—high energy, lots of cool spectacle, and also it’s a chance to see friendships formed throughout the college itself. Just having people from all different majors, and seeing the friendships on stage.”
Supporting the music and action of the show is a strong design concept, from set and lights to costumes and special effects.
“This is my tenth musical,” Ven Huizen said. “This musical and this production in particular there’s a lot more technical background stuff than I’ve been in before.”
Ultimately, “Godspell” is a show you won’t want to miss.
“It’s a reminder of the core of the story and the core of our faith,” Barker said. “And it’s really, really, really a lot of fun. And it’s really, really, really serious too. So it’s got everything you want in a theatrical production. Not a dull moment.”
“Godspell” opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the England Proscenium Theatre, with further performances Feb. 20, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 27 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free for students.