Imagine Jesus, wearing Superman underwear, getting baptized by John the Baptist with a shower puff in a sky blue kiddie pool.
One can only witness such an extraordinary sight in Guilford College’s production of “Godspell the Musical.”
Guilford’s production features seniors Ben Evans as Jesus and Victoria Saraldi-Gallardo as John the Baptist and Judas. Performing in Sternberger Auditorium, the actors use song and dance to spread a message of love and tolerance.
The play has students such as junior Becca Mellor raving about the unique Guilford references and the audience participation in the performanance through charades and Pictionary.
“I expected the play to be fantastic, but I did not expect at all to get to play Charades,” said Mellor.
With the audience involved in both drawing and acting, Jesus and the ensemble of characters convey pivotal messages like “If a man asks for your shirt, offer him your coat as well.”
Lines like “Don’t act like you forgot” and “Let me see your birth certificate” elicited exclamations of amusement by referencing Rihanna’s lyrics and Donald Trump.
Throughout the play, the spunky and often comical dialogue between actors kept the audience fully engaged and eager for more.
One scene in particular features Jesus reading the feet of another character and discovering the word “rejoice.”
The other character promptly replies, “Dude, it says Reebok.”
In addition to the witty script, director and choreographer Bryan Conger hopes the audience will recognize “Godspell’s” deeper meaning.
“It is about building a community,” said Conger. “Guilford College has such a wonderful array of students from different backgrounds, racial backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is so exciting to have all those different perspectives in the room to create a community.”
“Godspell” centers on a series of parables in the Gospel of Matthew and is enhanced by the accompaniment of modern music including the famous tunes “Turn Back, O Man,” “Beautiful City” and “Day by Day.”
“Many of the songs in the show reflect upon, sum up or explore the sentiment of the preceding scene, which is oftentimes a parable or a series of parables,” said music director Wendy Looker. “These ideas are presented musically in many shades of rock.”
“We can build a beautiful city, not a city of angels, but we can build a city of man,” reads one particularly poignant lyric.
“We chose ‘Godspell’ because we felt like it was relevant in these … times,” said Conger. “We thought it was important to talk about what it means to be a community, how to build a community and how to treat one another.”
Junior Riva Fairhall, scenic artist and properties master for “Godspell,” could not agree more with the theme of community.
“Guilford has a group of students that practice what they preach,” said Fairhall. “Guilford and Guilford students were able to truly show themselves, and I think people are going to appreciate the beauty and the truth.”
The originality of Guilford’s “Godspell” stems from capitalizing on the distinctive personalities of each of the actors.
“The writers encourage you to do your own thing,” said Conger.
Many of the actors, such as Molly Anne Marcotte, had the chance to infuse dialogue pertinent to their lives at Guilford.
The preparations for “Godspell” began over the summer when Conger was originally approached to direct the musical “Rent.”
However, the cast and crew turned the show around over winter break to produce “Godspell” instead. In December, the cast auditioned and started rehearsing at the onset of J-Term.
“‘Godspell’ strikes me as a very Guilford-esque show,” said Looker. “The music is accessible and fun, and the abundance of comic moments is tempered by beautiful ballads and a poignant crucifixion scene.”
“‘Godspell’ is the show that Guilford should be doing,” said Fairhall.
In that same vein, “Godspell” is the show that Guilford should be seeing.