Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Is There a Musical Less Original Than Godspell?

Is there a musical that is less original than Godspell? Some of the lyrics are taken verbatim out of the same hymnals church members already have in their pews! A lot of the dialog is taken straight from the Gospel of Matthew. And many people have seen so many productions they can sing the songs and recite the lines before they're sung or spoken.

Even the title is nothing new -- it's just the Old English word for Good News -- God Spell -- which is of course the root for our word gospel!

Yet since its opening off-Broadway in 1971 Godspell, (Book by John Michael Tebelak, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz) always manages to sound fresh and new.
Maybe that's what the whole idea of Incarnation is all about -- words are made flesh and dwell among us! Or as it says in the Good Book, "Behold, I make all things new!"Making old things new is the reason Artistic Director Jeremy Littlejohn is excited about bring a week's worth of Godspell to the Second Stage at the Locke Township Meeting Hall as part of the Round Barn Theatre season at Amish Acres.

“My rule is not to repeat a show unless I can do it as good or even better than the earlier production,” Littlejohn said. He thought long and hard about reviving Godspell, because the 1996 Round Barn production, set in  a Hoosier cornfield was, in his words “...a very well executed production.”

However Littlejohn is excited about the concept for this season’s production, taking advantage of the combination of young actors and seasoned veterans.

“I’ve got this Breakfast Club kind of thing,” Littlejohn said. Jesus (Travis Smith) and Judas (T.J. Besler) are both adults. The rest of the company are teenagers. They will represent the different kinds of groups you find in high school: jocks, band people, goths. Also, the Second Stage is a super intimate space. With ten people and an orchestra, we’ve never done a musical this large in the Locke ever.”

One of the show's elements that insures each production is unique is the way each cast brings its own personality into the show. While two actors play specific roles (Jesus and John the Baptist/Judas) the rest are identified by a single name that is not drawn directly from the gospels.

Together they tell the good news beginning with the baptism of Jesus and continuing through the crucifixion and beyond.

Songs include "Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord," "Day by Day," "All Good Gifts," "O Bless the Lord," "All for the Best," "By the Willows," among many others.

While each year's company for the Round Barn Theatre is drawn from actors across the country, this particular production will feature many local actors from the immediate area, places like Nappanee, Wakarusa, and Milford, including several who took part in the Young Actors Studio camps sponsored by Amish Acres.

Song writer Stephen Schwartz once said that the musical is as much about the community of faith owning and retelling the story of Jesus as it is about Jesus himself. Most audience members certainly carry on with that tradition by singing the music as they leave the theater. This is a musical that is memorable, and sticks to your ribs.

The cast includes the Round Barn's Music Director Travis Smith as Jesus, T.J. Besler as John the Baptist/Judas, along with Sara Bowling, Kellie MacGowan, Ricky Iniesta, Aria Skaggs, Joelle Rassi, Christian Elias, Bradley M. Waelbroeck, and Milchelle Miller. The orchastra will include David Brennan, Tom Slavey, and Brian Bell. Round Barn Artistic Director Jeremy Littlejohn is directing the show, and Amber Burgess is in charge of costumes.


Godspell, Book by John Michael Tebelak, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, will be performed at the Locke Township Meeting Hall at Amish Acres, August 31 & September 1 @ 7:00 PM, September 6 & 7 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM. For reservations call 800-800-4942.

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