Godspell combines biblical messages with musical fun

Savannah Bond

Gospell flung Jesus and his parables into the 21st century. Directed by seniors Jack Kalish-Demaris and Ava Lyons, the musical ran Nov. 9-12 in the Little Theatre.

Theatre Ink’s small musical featured Jesus, played by senior David Tárrega, Judas, played by junior Shalev Moser, and a series of soloists and followers as they sang their way through the formation of the community centered around Jesus’ teachings. 

“I really like that the show doesn’t have any boundaries,” said Lyons. “It doesn’t really restrict anybody based on their race, their gender, their sexuality, or how their expression is. Judas could be a girl or something like that.”

The show follows a structure of the cast acting out parables and lessons, and then a soloist or duo singing a song following the idea of the parable. 

“It was really fun to play with because it didn’t really matter who sang the songs,” said Lyons. “We had some women or higher voiced people singing lower voiced songs so it’s a really big mix and I really like that.” 

The set of the show resembled an under-construction, rundown alley in a city, complete with scaffolding, on which the band played. The cast wore modern-day clothes, carried cell phones, and incorporated modern slang, though much of the dialogue used biblical wording.

“The biggest challenge was trying to string together a complicated script with an impactful and emotional ending,” said Kalish-Demaris. “I hope the audience walks away with some hope because the show showcases that through struggle and pain, and it is important to keep pushing forward.”

Tárrega, who wore jeans and a tank top to play Jesus, worked to portray the religious leader in an accurate way.

“The Jesus of Godspell is kind, playful, and optimistic, and I have tried to be more like him to the people in my surroundings,” he said. “I have a whole document with the meaning of the parables in the show and how I connect with what is portrayed in each of them.” 

A highlight of the show was the song “All for the Best,” which included tap dancing in addition to acting and singing. In the song, Jesus and Judas are arguing about the positivity of life and whether the more fortunate are the only ones who can have a good life.

“‘All for the Best’ is very Vaudeville, which is very musical theater, and we actually don’t get a lot of that in this show,” said Lyons. “It shows two opposing views and is also very animated, so it has a lot of different things happening.”

Another highlight was the song “Beautiful City.” This took place near the end, when Jesus was preparing for The Last Supper. The song is about building back from destruction.

“It’s about how you can create a beautiful city in your community,” said Lyons. “I really hope that people can walk away and think that they can form their own beautiful city in the everyday.”