Sound Board: Connecting with Jesus through the 'Godspell'
by DANIEL SCHIFFHAUR
Sat, Jan 19th 2019 04:00 pm
St. Gabriel Parish, Elma
(Dan Cappellazzo/Staff Photographer)
Recently the curtain went up on the Iroquois High School Drama Club production of "Godspell." While there have been many productions and revivals of the 1971 original, I was proud to be a part of this production. There are challenges inherent in pulling any production together, but "Godspell" presented its own unique ones.
First, I was surprised by the selection of a religious themed musical by a public school. While mostly a Christian community, the students are not all Catholic, and there are some who aren't even religious at all. It was hard to arrive at an interpretation given the diverse background cast, crew and production team.
At first, it was particularly difficult for me to reconcile my personal ideas with the fact that our musical was a creative, theatrical production depicting the influence of a historical person. I struggled to see how a public performance could fit with my private relationship with Jesus. There were so many allusions to the biblical stories and parables we hear week after week at Mass. Sometimes the stories were presented in a way to make the audience laugh, which concerned me because I feared it could be viewed as a lack of reverence. However, I looked deeply at how Jesus interacted with the other characters and audience in the plot. He connected to everybody at one point or another. Jesus engaged the other characters: athletes, influencers and scholars on their own terms in order to teach and guide them. He did not talk at them, but talked with them. He accepted them, flaws and all, just as He accepts us and wants what is best for us. This production actually helped me to develop a new perspective as I thought about what it would be like to have the opportunity to interact with Jesus when he came to us in human form. Jesus became more real, dynamic and multi-faceted to me. As I got into character I saw Jesus as an approachable friend.
No matter what religion our team or audience practiced, we were able to share and witness God's universal message of tolerance, peace and love. Thinking back, the song "Prepare ye the Way of the Lord" resonates with me to this day. It was such a powerful experience to connect with a diverse group of people to create something positive, as God calls us all to do.