'Godspell' - Teens re-enact Jesus' story

Published on Friday, 20 June 2014 23:42 - Written by Alma Linda Manzaneres amanzaneres@tylerpaper.com

A 12 member cast of teenagers reenact the story of Jesus Christ in “Godspell,” presented by the Pollard Theater Center, June 27 to 28.

The show is based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, where a small group helps Jesus Christ tell different parables in a vibrant way through song, games and humor.

In the show, the only identifiable characters are Jesus and Judas. The remaining cast plays followers of Jesus.

Arnold Sherman, director of music and fine arts, said the play was chosen based on its “timeless quality” and message of love and community.

“The words of Jesus Christ ring true whether you’re a believer or not because he did talk about love and peace, and everyone being together and getting along,” he said. “That’s a universal message and a strong part of the show.”

Liz Henson, 15, said the relationship between Jesus Christ and the disciples is prominent in “Godspell.”

“It feels like they were more like friends,” she said. “You don’t see that very often in a lot of different portrayals of Jesus and his followers.”

The cast of the show agreed that participating in the show helped build their faith.

Andrew Tompkins, 14, who plays Jesus, said he can understand the Bible better because the show makes it easier to understand the messages and emotions communicated through the Bible.

Christina Romines, 13, agreed and said before she participated in the play, she was unaware how emotionally affected the disciple’s were after Jesus’ crucifixion.

“I didn’t have an understanding into how much it affected their lives and how much they learned from Jesus and now I do and it’s amazing,” she said.

Mark Becker, 18, who plays Judas, said his interpretation of the “bad guy” has slightly altered from participating in the play because he has a better understanding of Judas’ viewpoint.

“He wanted to take the world by storm and by force and Jesus wanted peace and love,” he said. “I’ve learned that Judas was just different. He didn’t have a biblical world view.”

“Godspell” will be performed at two different locations and admission is free.

On June 26, a 1,000 seat show will be held 7:30 p.m. at the Bergfeld Park Amphitheater.

Another three performances continue at the Founders Center at Pollard United Methodist Church 7:30 p.m. June 27, and 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. June 28. Seating is limited with 235 seats available. Tickets are required for admission and can be obtained free on a first-come, first-served basis at the Founders’ box office prior to each show.

Sherman said the biggest issue with performing at Bergfeld Park is the heat. He said since the park also has a concrete stage, costumes are different.

“They spend a lot of time crawling around on the floor with bear legs and leggings and they’ll have a hard time with that on concrete,” he said. “There won’t be as much falling down there (at Bergfeld) as there will be here (at Founders).”

Victoria Sundin, 17, said she likes participating in “Godspell” more than other plays because it’s important for the life of the church.

“It’s good that we’re reaching toward the people like when we go to Bergfeld Park,” she said. “I just think for this church, this play makes it more lively.”

Tommi JoHarris, 15, agreed.

“One of the last things that Jesus says in the Bible is “Go out and make disciples of all nations” and I feel like this is what we’re doing,” she said. “It’s in a fun way that people who may not have necessarily heard the word or read the word of God will understand it and be able to relate to it.”

“Godspell” has appeared on Broadway with music by Stephen Schwartz and originally directed by John Michael Tebelak.

For more information, call 903-245-4978.