Behind the scenes of Godspell

Godspell the musical will appear in Mercy’s auditorium Nov. 14 through Nov. 16.  Tickets are available for purchase for $13 and will be available at the box office the day of the show.

Each fall and spring, students are excited to see the shows and possibly get a picture with a cast member for some extra credit points.  However, the drama department is giving a twist this year.  Usually, there is a fall play and a spring musical.  This year, the decision was made to stage a fall musical in addition to the spring musical.

“We always do a fall play.  We always do a spring musical,” said director Kathy Sill.  “We always look for a box set and a show that features a lot of girls, and we couldn’t find one that we hadn’t done.  We kept ordering scripts and reading them, but we couldn’t find anything that we liked. All of a sudden we just thought ‘What about doing another musical?’ At the same time, we said Godspell.

The directors and the 19-member cast are eager to present a fall musical to the student body for the first time.  There are 13 girls and six boys in the cast.  In addition, the stage crew has a surprise prop that will be kept under wraps until the debut. Another interesting dynamic of Godspell is that the characters, apart from the two lead roles, are cast as themselves.

“In the show we go by our own names,” said junior Allison McMillan.  “It’s very different, and I’ve never done that before.  I’m usually told to play a certain character, but I got to make my own character for the show.  It’s something new and a lot of fun because I get to be myself but a little more crazy version of myself.”

This musical allows each actor and actress to stay true to themselves, but they don’t have to.  For McMillan, she elaborates on her personality by being more exuberant, but stays true to her faith.

“The show is a good way for me to connect to my character,” said McMillan.  “It’s all true.  Everything I’m saying in the show is true.  It’s about my faith.  So, I connect with [the show] just because it’s who I am.”

The two lead roles are Jesus, played by University of Detroit sophomore Michael Cuschieri, and John the Baptist, played by Jake Zelinski.  Zelinski will also be playing the role of Judas.  This is the first Mercy musical that they auditioned for.

“It’s been a really fun experience,” said Cuschieri. “This Jesus is a lot different from the Bible version of Jesus.  He gets angry at some points.  He has a lot of emotions, rather than just a flat character. It’s very interesting.  This role is nothing like I’ve ever done before.  At the same time, I have to remember I’m portraying Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

In addition to the two male leads, Christopher Vargovick, Catholic Central senior, and Brendan Hansknecht, U of D junior, are also part of the cast. Mercy freshman Frankie Bellisario, plays a Mary Magdalene-type character.  She sings a song about turning away from the evils of the world and coming to Jesus.  However, people usually do not hear this message because it is sung in a sultry way and she plays a sexy role.  The script states that this role is a Mae West type of character.

Originally produced in 1971 by John-Michael Tebelak with music by Steven Schwartz, Godspell is an adaptation of the gospel according to St. Matthew.

“We believe it really speaks to who we are as a school,” said Ms. Sill.  “It speaks to our core values here at Mercy.”

Below, see Newsprint go behind the scenes of Godspell in a video put together by Simone Rhodes.