Local youth will present Godspell

Local youth will present Godspell These cast members of the upcoming performance of the musical Godspell rehearsed the song Day by Day Tuesday night in the USD Medical School auditorium. Pictured are Joe Ward, Laura Ward, Becca Gehm, Alexis Lang, Mary Nelson, Thom Kolbeck, Jennifer Dickenson and Steve Russell. In front is Megan Swenson. by David Lias The medical school building at The University of South Dakota seems an unlikely place to stage something other than classes and lectures.

But the building contains a small auditorium, and it�s not being used this summer.

That makes it the perfect place for the staging of the Stephen Schwartz musical Godspell by a group of young actors.

The musical will be presented July 10, 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. in the USD Medical School auditorium. There will also be a matinee on Sunday, July 11, at 2 p.m.

Advance ticket sales begin July 1. Tickets will be available at Davis Pharmacy and the Nook �n Cranny, or by calling 624-3120.

�I guess this was my idea,� said Jeanne Dahlin, who along with Jan Ireland is directing the music. �I really believe in drama as a creative vehicle for youth, Vermillion summer theatre has always been close to my heart, and I�ve wanted to do Godspell with a high school cast for some time.�

She added that the recent attention paid toward teens in the media makes this a good time for the project.

�When Jill Tyler and Buffie Main agreed to direct the show, that clinched it,� she said. �One of the challenges of the project has been making a show very rooted in the last �60s relevant to young people today.�

Godspell was the first pop-rock-gospel musical, predating Jesus Christ Superstar, and in some ways this modest and loving work remains the best of them, according to some critics.

Godspell is a jubilant celebration of the Gospel as told by St. Matthew. This Broadway and West End musical of the 1970s was described by Alan Jay Lerner as �part rock, part revival singing.�

Godspell sprang from the youth culture of the swinging sixties and offered its first audiences a contemporary approach to the world�s most famous story.

Godspell is a modern and contemporary celebration of music, mime, comedy and slapstick. The score of Godspell calls on all modern musical influences, including pop and rock with songs such as Day by Day, Prepare Ye, Turn Back O� Man and By My Side providing the musical color.

Since its premiere, Godspell has remained an immensely successful rock opera, breaking new ground in its stage treatment of Jesus Christ. The story of Godspell speaks to the passion of Jesus Christ; to teach love and joy in the hearts of people rather than hate and sadness. It speaks of loving your neighbor, forgiveness, tolerance and celebration.

�The music is still wonderful, but the directors and cast are working to bring in today�s issues,� Dahlin said. �I get excited every night as I watch the work go on.�

The cast of the musical production includes Joe and Laura Ward of Centerville, Megan Swanson of Elk Point and Alexis Lang, Mary Nelson, Rebecca Gehm, Jennifer Dickenson, Patrick Ireland, Weston Olson, Tim Goodman, Stephen Russell and Thom Kolbeck of Vermillion.

�This is very challenging,� Dahlin said. �Every actor really has to be on top of his and her role. Everybody is on stage the whole time. It�s a stretch for every actor.�

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