Image courtesy of Sheileen Godwin The King’s College production of “Godspell” takes place at a music festival.
Image courtesy of Sheileen Godwin
The King’s College production of “Godspell” takes place at a music festival.

The King’s College theatre season kicks off with a new take on the musical  “Godspell.”

“Godspell” is a religiously charged musical based on a book by John-Michael Tebelak. The musical adaptation was arranged by the great Stephen Schwartz, of “Pippin” and “Wicked” fame, in 1971.

The production will be directed by King’s professor Dave Reynolds. Dylawnie Woods stars as John the Baptist and Judas, while Dylan Koch takes on the demanding role of Jesus of Nazareth.

Supporting players include local talents such as Greg Adams, Britney Benkoski, Jarret Gabriel, Beth DiMichele, Lindsay Denion, Talia Johnson and Skyler Makuch.

The story follows the final days of Jesus, but the King’s rendition of “Godspell” is unique in that it is set at a music festival.

The production is filled with universal themes, and Koch explained that knowledge of the Christian faith is not essential for an audience member to appreciate the story.

The cast of the show is an experienced group. For example, Koch has performed in three King’s productions in his time on campus. Makuch, a side player, is studying Theatre and has a particularly strong connection with musicals, “Godspell” especially.

“I wanted to get involved because I love musicals,” Makuch explained, in reference to why she was drawn to playing a part in the production. “I’ve seen ‘Godspell’ a few times, and I’ve never gotten the opportunity to do it.”

Koch and Makuch are especially excited to see the collaborative process come alive, not just with the actors, but with all aspects of the show.

“I am most excited to see how all the pieces that we worked on separately (music, choreography, and blocking) come together in a piece of art that all involved will be proud of,” Koch said. “And one that audiences will enjoy witnessing.”

Makuch agreed with Koch’s assessment of the cast’s relationship, acknowledging the family atmosphere that blossomed over each rehearsal. Director Reynolds encouraged this family atmosphere from the beginning of production.

The music of “Godspell” is varied, with elements of rock, vaudeville and, naturally, gospel all showing up. Makuch believes this is one of the main reasons that the show can be enjoyed by anyone.

“‘Godspell’ can be appreciated by people from all walks of life, just as the members of the tribe come from various backgrounds,” Makuch said, touching on the parallels between the characters in the play and the audience.

The theatre department’s work on “Godspell” goes hand-in-hand with a few other campus events. On Oct. 3, a panel entitled “What’s the Spell in Godspell?” will include Reynolds, Rev. Thomas Looney, Rev. Brent Kruger, Music Director Rob Yenkowski and Theatre Intern Allen Bonk, will discuss “Godspell” in depth.

In addition to this, the Oct. 6 performance of “Godspell” will be immediately followed by a Taize Prayer in the theater, led by Campus Ministry and the Theatre Department.

“Godspell” can be seen at the King’s College Theater on Sept. 29 and 30, and Oct.1, 6, 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.