2/21/2013 9:01:00 AM PARISH PERSPECTIVE An encore for 'Godspell'
BY MICHELLE B. PRZEDWIECKI
This past fall, the faith community at St. Clement's parish in Saratoga Springs came together to put on a production of the Broadway musical "Godspell." The director, Karey-Hall Trimmings, and our pastor, Rev. Paul Borowski, CSsR, had the vision of using the church itself as the stage.
The music and skits in the show are based on the Gospel of Matthew, so it made sense to dance down the aisles, proclaiming the Gospel to the congregation. Talented choreographer and parishioner Tina Baird helped bring that vision into reality, and the show was even more powerful because of the talents and dedication of the Life Teen youth band.
When the organizers put out a call for auditions in the parish bulletin, they weren't sure what kind of a response they would get. It seems it was led by the Holy Spirit. This musical is about how John the Baptist calls a diverse group of individuals to prepare the way of the Lord, and then Jesus helps them to grow into a true community. Our cast came together in much the same way.
"Godspell" is performed by an ensemble cast, which means that the whole cast is together on stage for the entire show. But each of the characters has their own song in which they express their unique message. We had one person audition for each song, and it seemed to come together perfectly. Some were experienced actors, dancers and singers; for others, this was their first show.
Although the cast was made up of parishioners, not everyone knew each other. When we started rehearsals, there were new friendships to be made. The cast was made up of full-time students and working parents and we worked hard to fit rehearsals into our busy lives - and to figure out the lighting and sound technology.
When we finally performed for a live audience, the message of the show came alive. The audience laughed and cried with us; at the finale, they sang with us, too. Afterwards, they told us how moved they had been.
As a mother of four young children, I am always trying to find ways to teach my children how to live a life of faith in a materialistic and often shallow world. We pray and go to Mass together and structure our year around our traditions, but it is still hard to compete with our culture.
In a world of, "If it's not fun, why do it," how do we show the value of service and sacrifice? As a faith formation teacher, I try to get kids excited about Jesus, but it can be hard to get through the noise of action movies and video games - so I was excited to see children at the show looking at Jesus like a superhero.
Father Borowski had just given a talk to the parents of children preparing to receive their First Eucharist, and he encouraged us to talk to the children about how Jesus is their friend. He spoke on the challenges of trying to explain the Last Supper and the crucifixion to young children. I thought of how, during the "Godspell" performances, the children could really picture Jesus as a friend, not just a historical figure.
They could watch as Jesus joked with His friends, teaching them through parables and songs and then bringing them together to share a meal. I was particularly moved by one little girl who started sobbing when Jesus died (for her!) and then cheerfully joined us to sing "Day by Day" after He resurrected.
But this was in no way just a show for children. There were people of all ages and even from different faiths who were able to take something away from the performances, and plenty of adults were also moved to tears.
In fact, we've been asked to offer a few more performances. As we celebrate the season of Lent and prepare our hearts for Easter, consider bringing your family and friends to enjoy a great show and let your faith grow a little deeper.
(Ms. Przedwiecki is a St. Clement's parishioner and cast member. Performances are scheduled for March 14-17, 7 p.m., at the parish. See www.scpny.org/Life%20Teen/Godspell.htm.)