"We want to promote theatre in Paynesville. In our first-time attempt, we thought 'Godspell' was a natural choice because of the small cast," Erin Kehr, director, and Mackenzie Merrill, musical director, said. "It is a wonderful show, easy to do, and requires a low budget."
Godspell was originally produced on Broadway in 1973 as a stylized account of the Gospel according to Matthew.
"This interpretation of the Gospel conveys the humor, sadness, and ultimate joy which must have been felt by eyewitnesses who did not know the end to the greatest story ever told," Kehr said. "The language and feel of the show have been modernized to make it more accessible to contemporary audiences. While originally conceived in the early 70s, in the free spirit of the 60s, it remains true to the original message of love set forth by Jesus 2,000 years ago."
The cast consists of Jesus (Ryan Louis) and the 12 disciples. Cast members are: Ryan Louis, Jesus; Dan Johnson, Peter; Ken Vork, Judas Iscariot; Ian Pelton, John the Baptist; Gretchen Vork, Thadeus; Joe Halvorson, Matthew; Crystal Colbert, Simon; Erin Vork, Thomas; Lauren Vork, Philip; Becky Gardner, Andrew; Allison Thompson, James; Susan Walther, Judas; and Casey Kavanagh, Bartholomew.
Kehr said every cast member sings a solo. Among the songs are "Day by Day," "We Beseech Thee," "Light of the World," and "Prepare Ye the Way."
Antonia Kehr is the stage manager. Rehearsal pianist is Cheryl Colbert, but Merrill will be the pianist for the performances. A local band is being formed to provide backup music for the musical. Band members include Bob Gardner, acoustical guitar; Doug Voss, bass guitar; and Amy Flanders, drummer.
"In the spirit of inclusiveness, taught by Jesus, the diverse musical styles include rock, folk, ragtime, gospel, revival, and ballad forms. Needless to say, there is something for everyone," Kehr said.
Show times are 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, from July 29 to 31, in addition to a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Saturday. Cost of tickets at the door are $5. Proceeds will go to help the Kosovo refugees through CARE International.
St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Paynesville, is sponsoring the musical production.
About the directors
Kehr is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. Since moving to Paynesville last summer, he has worked as resident scenic artist at Central Minnesota Children's Theatre in St. Cloud. Last season he directed "Miss Nelson is Missing" for the children's theatre. Originally from Kansas City, Mo., he has been involved in theatre since he was 13 and is a veteran of over 30 productions in various technical and design capacities.
Merrill is a 1999 graduate of Paynesville Area High School and will be attending the music school at DePaul University in Chicago in the fall. She is a former member of the Minnesota Youth Symphony and the Minnesota All-State Orchestra. In Paynesville, Merrill was active in band, jazz band, choir, pops choir, and other various activities. She has also been involved in On-Call, theatre and recently played Dorothy in the school production of "The Wizard of Oz." Merrill was also the 1998 Miss Paynesville.
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