|Image courtesy Theatre in the Round|
Director Dann Peterson has a long history with Godspell
, the musical retelling of the Gospels, which he helms at the soon-to-open Theatre in the Round
"I first saw this show in one of its early touring days at the old St. Paul Auditorium. I have seen several other productions over the years," he says. "This is the fifth time I have directed a production of this show, and each time I have given it a different setting and a different treatment."
This time, Peterson looked to the very process of theater for his inspiration.
"[Songwriter Stephen] Schwartz talks about the show as a coming together of a community of individuals who work together to complete a mission," Peterson says. "That idea rang true to me with every theater production I have ever been a part of: people coming together as a community, working for a common goal. Therefore, I have given this production a theatrical setting, with a community of actors who have come together beginning with auditions and continuing through the joy of working together."
"The staging starts with a bare set, and then takes us through the steps in the process, from the rehearsal hall to the costume shop to the scene shop and beyond. Essentially, the staging is an onstage tour of Theatre in the Round," Peterson says.
The work was written by John Michael Tebelak and Schwartz. Schwartz's work also includes Pippin and Wicked.
"Schwartz talks about the musical focusing on building community. I feel the show deals with the universal themes of forgiveness, tolerance, acceptance, and working together for the common good. I think the music is also well-known and memorable. We need a feel-good show to lift our spirits," Peterson says.
Peterson has worked with a 13-actor company to bring the show to life.
"I was obviously looking for good singers, because it is such an ensemble piece with all actors onstage all the time and singing complicated harmonies behind soloists. There are also some great songs that require strong voices. I was also looking for actors with good
storytelling skills and improvisational skills, and who could bring unique and interesting ideas to the telling of the parables. There is no real dramatic structure to the musical, so I wanted actors who could bring some variety and individuality to the stage."
Even for those who may have seen numerous productions in the past, this Godspell offers fresh insight and experiences.
"I hope the audiences will be entertained by the singing and dancing and various forms of storytelling through movement, mime, puppetry, and so forth. But I also hope they will feel their spirits lifted by the enthusiasm of the performers who are excited to relate to the audiences and by the charm of the stories and songs and by the universal themes."
IF YOU GO:
Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.333.3010 or visit online.
245 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis, MN