Prep's Godspell is A Cause to Rejoice!
Author: Andrea Gannon | Photographer: Photography by Anne
In its winter production, Hilton Head Prep brings the hit musical Godspell to the Seahawk Cultural Center stage, February 20-23, offering a fresh new take on the beloved show about humanity and love.
The original production was a collection of improvised scenes, based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. The musical transferred for a 10-week run to NYC’s La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in 1971; then it moved to Broadway in June 1976, where it played until September 1977, with a total run of 2,600 performances.
Godspell’s innovative 40th anniversary Broadway revival came to the stage in 2011, directed by Daniel Goldstein, who said that his goal for the audience was to experience through Godspell the “spirit of community and the idea to always treat others as you would have them treat you.”
While Jesus Christ Superstar defined the rock opera and stage spectacle, this sweeter, gentler variation of the Christ story fell right in line with the peace-love-hippie movement of the ’70s. In Godspell, a group of urban-clad young people fall under the spell of a gentle leader, who leads them on a path of spiritual enlightenment, all interposed with the phenomenal score by Stephen Schwartz, the Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer of “Wicked” and “Pippin.” Songs like “Day by Day” and “Prepare Ye…” became part of the ’70s songbook, and helped to define an era of Broadway musicals.
Ken Davenport, producer of the 2011 revival, described the show saying, “Godspell is one of those rare and unique breeds of shows that allows the company to use its creativity and unique gifts to mold and shape it into what they want it to be. By sharing stories about living good lives and singing about love, joy, gratitude, judgment and redemption, the group of disparate individuals band together with a common purpose to face challenges and obstacles as they are tested along the way.”
Hilton Head Prep casts a spell
With a cast of 19 students, the winter show is the second production under the school’s performing arts director, Peggy Trecker White, following an inaugural success with the fall Shakespearean comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Trecker White shares her vision for this production: “When I began thinking about Godspell, the image that kept recurring was a pile of old TV sets. Typically the story takes place in an abandoned city park, where a group of individuals congregate and begin to create community through the teachings of one very kind, loving, insightful and inspirational leader. So, the notion of things we abandon came through with those TVs. I have a tendency to think about all those things we throw away for something new and improved, the latest version, something better.
“Audrey Hepburn’s quote comes to mind, ‘People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone.’ It seems to me that the goal of new technology is always sold as something that will bring us closer together. But you don’t have to search far to find multitudes of articles on how social media, apps, phones and new technology are doing the exact opposite. It is amazing to keep in touch with my friend traveling in Europe but odd that I am silently doing this in a room two feet away from my mother or husband who is perhaps also silently connecting with someone else. We miss what is right in front of us while searching for something at a distance. Obviously, this is not a new problem. Each time we throw out the old technology for the new and improved, it always seems to end up that the best connection is the face-to-face, person-to-person contact.
“We search for the satisfaction that comes from hanging with a best friend and laughing and who knows what. And while we are throwing out the old for the new, we are responsible for creating a wasteland. Where does all this old technology go… to what warehouse, what landfill? With all the junk—literal junk—in our way, how much harder is it to physically get to one another? And maybe physically, it doesn’t take much, but spiritually, mentally, can we close the divide? Can we utilize the new and honor the old to stay in the present? I long for us all to grow and connect spiritually, philosophically and joyfully. I hope we take the time and space to put down the toys and tools in order to restore, revive and play. I hope that Godspell will communicate this through its incredible, uplifting score and underlying message.”
Tickets for Godspell can be purchased with a credit card at hhprep.org and will also be available at the door using cash or check. Prices are $20 – adults; $15 – seniors (60 and older); and $10 – students. For additional ticket information and group rates (15 or more people), contact Jamie Berndt at (843) 341-9182.
Who: Presented by Hilton Head Preparatory School
Where: Seahawk Cultural Center, Hilton Head Island High School
When: February 20-22 at 7:30 pm and February 23 at 2 pm.