Young cast to perform ‘Godspell Junior’
Alison Griffiths Samuels, director of the Youtheatre division of the Utah Music Festival and School, has always wanted to direct a version of "Godspell," one of her favorite musicals.
"My father was a theatre professor at Alma College, when we lived in central Michigan," Samuels told The Park Record. "When I was growing up in high school, he staged it. This was in the ’70s, so the show was fairly new, and it had such a profound effect on me. The storyline and the music, in particular, captivated me."
Even when Samuels, who spent summers at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York, delved into her music studies and picked up the flute, her love for musical theatre never died.
"It’s been maturing in me all these years, and throughout the past 15 years, I felt like I needed to do something," she said. "As my kids have gotten older and interested in theatre, it seemed like a natural thing to do this because I new the music so well."
When the Utah Music Festival and School began working with the Weilenmann School of Discovery, an opportunity for Samuels to stage "Godspell" opened up.
"The space was available and I put everything together and found this was the right time to do it," she said. "I opened it up to the community, but it happened the kids at Weilenmann were really gung ho about doing the play and they were all good singers, so the cast ended up being all Weilenmann students, with the exception of my son Ben, who is a Park City High School student."
The cast is Ben Samuels, Matt Samuels, Brighid Early, Sunshine Moore, Sophia Chartrand, Ally Randolph, Hanna Littell, Noah Samuels and Jacob Samuels.
Staging the full original production of the original "Godspell," by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak, would be a little too mature for the Weilenmann students, Samuels said. So they looked for a children-friendly version.
"We want people to know we’re presenting ‘Godspell Junior,’ which is a version created by Music Theatre International, which has hundreds of plays that are reworked for younger performers and audiences," Samuels said. "They give you a score and CD track you can use, which makes it simpler for a younger cast."
Even with the story and songs reworked, it was still a challenge for Samuels to stage the play, she said.
"We worked with a demanding schedule that required rehearsals three times a week," she said. "We had to schedule all those rehearsals because we had to make opening night."
Samuels said she couldn’t see her dream of staging "Godspell" come true without the help of Weilenmann.
"The school has been wonderful to work with," Samuels said. "I’ve been wanting to do this for 15 years, and now it’s happening."
The Utah Music School will present "Godspell Junior" at the Weilenmann School of Discovery, 4237 Kilby Road, May 20 and 21, at 8 p.m. and May 22 at 4 p.m. Tickets are$10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for children ages 15 and younger. A family pass for $25 is also available. Tickets are available by calling (435) 658-4943. Tickets will also be available at the door.
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