By CHERIL VERNON
CROCKETT — Will you have family in town for Thanksgiving? Looking for something special to do Thanksgiving weekend?
The Piney Woods Fine Arts Association will host the nationally touring show and Tony award-winning musical “Godspell,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 at the Crockett Civic Center — one of only three stops in Texas.
“Put the leftover turkey in the fridge and bring the whole family to one of the most enduring Broadway musicals of all time in a brand new and up-to-date, intimate one-of-a-kind production,” PWFAA Associate Producer Glenn Barnhart said.
“Godspell” begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, followed by Jesus teaching the "community,” through parables, about how to lead loving lives that will please God. The members of the community all adopt symbols showing that they are now following Jesus, and its members become more closely knit as the parables progress. Jesus makes the parables humorous and casual, and an aura of love surrounds the group as they grow closer. His followers defend him when he is criticized by the Pharisees, and heed his warning before casting out an adulteress from the group. While initially chummy friends, Judas soon plans to betray Jesus for money, and his followers can only watch his death unfold before their eyes.
The Tony-nominated score from the composer “Wicked” and Pippin,” features songs such as “Day by Day,” “Light of the World” and “Turk Back, O Man.”
Originally conceived and directed by John-Michael Tebelak, this production is directed by David Hogan and will feature Jake Stern in the role of Jesus and Graham Parkhurst as John the Baptist / Judas. The cast also features Stacey Bulmer, Michael Hogeveen, Ivan Lo, Alessia Lupiano, Rebecca McCauley, Lisa Michelle, Janelle Murray, Michael De Rose, and David Cotton. The Canadian production, which also includes a five-person band, received rave reviews last year, most of which cited the youthful energy of the ensemble.
“Basically, it tells the story of Jesus and his disciples and all of the parables in a story that ends with the crucifixion of Jesus, focusing more on the parables and the love that the disciples share for Him,” cast member Lupiano told the Herald-Press during a phone interview last week.
At the time of the phone interview, the cast of “Godspell” was traveling to St. Louis for a five-day stay. Originally a Canadian short-run production, the cast is now traveling on tour with their show in the United States and in Canada.
“The show is amped up musically and we love doing it,” Lupiano said. “The revival score has been enhanced and there are a lot more harmony numbers. There's a rock piece, a gospel piece and pop rock piece. It's just really incredible — very relatable to the current generation of people coming to theaters.”
Lupiano said it's been fun being on tour.
“This is my first time traveling, so I wasn't sure how I was going to like it. But it's been a great opportunity to see the states. I've never been to Texas, I look forward to checking it out and traveling this beautiful country,” Lupiano said. “We've met the most amazing people. There some some incredible, die-hard 'Godspell' fans out there that are really great.”
Overall, the two-and-a-half-hour show is about love.
“It's about the love we share for each other and the love that Jesus has for us,” Lupiano said. “We are there to give love to the audience through the show. It's a very beautiful piece that everyone can relate to.”
Lupiano has been acting since she was 6 years old, graduating from theater school two years ago at Sheridan College in Oakville, Canada.
“I love the songs, especially with the new orchestrations. My song is more traditional but more sultry than what I've done before, so it's real exciting,” Lupiano said. “We get to sing our hearts out in the show. It's very fulfilling. The music is very catching, usually the audience will sing along with us.”
Stern, 19, is playing Jesus in the production. The actor said he feels "blessed" by the chance to tour in "Godspell" while he's still in his teens.
"I'm really lucky to be given an opportunity like this in such a beginning stage of my career. I'm looking forward to seeing America. I've only ever been to South Carolina ... once," he said.
Tickets for “Godspell” start at $32 and are available online at www.pwfaa.org. or by calling the Piney Woods Fine Arts Assoc. office at 936-544-4276 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Friday.
This show is sponsored by Brookshire Brothers and presented by PWFAA in association with KIVY/KMVL, Houston County Courier, Messenger and County Life magazine.
For more information regarding any of PWFAA’s events please go to www.pwfaa.org or follow on Facebook to receive current updates and announcements.