Day by Day: Music, Theater Combine in ‘Godspell’
Westmont presents “Godspell,” one of the most popular musicals of all time, on Oct. 12-15 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. in Westmont’s Porter Theatre. Music and theater students join together to stage a production for the first time since 2019. Tickets, which cost $20 for general admission and $12 for students and seniors, are available online at westmont.edu/boxoffice.
Director Mitchell Thomas, a theater arts professor at Westmont, decided to perform a chamber musical with a smaller cast replete with strong roles for theater and music students. “We hope to encourage audiences to return to live theater to see a beloved musical that is inspiring, funny, touching and connected to our Christian identity as a college,” he says.
Thomas has recruited a creative production team that includes four talented alums to provide design and dramaturgy. He last directed a musical, the relatively unknown “Animal Farm: The Musical,” in 2012. “It’s such a pleasure to work on ‘Godspell’ — great music, wonderful characters and a profound and playful story,” Thomas says. “There’s a reason ‘Godspell’ endures. Theater is always a collaborative art form, especially so in musicals.”
The students collaborate at the intersection of musical theater, including clown performance, storytelling and theological exploration. “All of it is connected to our own personal journeys as seekers and people of faith in the world,” Thomas says.
Ruth Lin, Westmont director of music, oversees the “Godspell” band of four, while Christina Ramsay directs vocals. John-Michael Tebelak conceived and originally directed “Godspell” in 1971. Stephen Schwartz, the three-time Grammy and Oscar winner who wrote music for Wicked in 2003, provided the music and lyrics for the musical.
“‘Godspell’ isn’t after teaching you how to be like Jesus or teaching you who the historical Jesus of Nazareth was,” says dramaturge Diana Small ’09. ‘Godspell’ aims to show how it takes a thoughtful, graceful and messy community to chase the peace, love and justice that God invites us to nurture.”