Upper School students enlightened audience members and presented a transformative experience with the vision and music of Godspell this week in Larson Hall.
Based on the 70s musical directed by John-Michael Tebelak and composed by Stephen Schwartz, Derby’s production featured a dystopian near-future, calling upon language direct from the Gospels.
Director Shawn Verrier added, “this is a story about love, compassion, and good will. It has also produced strong reactions – both positive and negative. The students embraced this challenge and were the creators of their own authentic life onstage. The costumes were picked by the actors and was intended to deepen their understanding of this world and allow for freedom of expression.”
“The choreography is a version of lyrical hip-hop, which emphasizes a strong physical manifestation of the language,” Verrier added. “I was also inspired by step dancing and the percussive movement of Pina Bausch, similar to a heartbeat or a tribal drum. The music is fabulously brought to life by Derelyn Kahler, a shining light onstage and throughout this rehearsal process. “The Band” (Dan Muse, Mark Rabuck, and Dave Ruggiano) also taught students instrument parts, as they themselves tackled this invigorating rock score. Nikhil Rich’ 20 and John Bernatavicious’19 stepped in to assist, and they all play an integral role in this story.”
The production also featured words of encouragement by Julia Mattison, a member of the original 2012 revival cast on Broadway.
“There’s something magical that happens with any cast of Godspell, and that is that you become a family with a deep trust and closeness in friendship that goes so far beyond the average play or musical experience,” Mattison wrote. “I hope the same for all of you – but most of all, I hope you have the TIME OF YOUR LIVES, and that you sing and laugh and feel that joy, because it’s just so much fun.”