Godspell Reflections

Bless the Lord! What an achievement in regards to Holiday Actor’s most recent production of Godspell! Congratulations to all cast, band, crew and everyone involved.

The Young Directors program is an excellent opportunity for aspiring young artists to create a show aside from the company’s famous January production. I cannot thank the Senior Committee enough for inviting the youth of Warrnambool and surrounds to put up their hand at directing. Their continuous support is evident and cherished throughout the season and beyond; thank you again Michael, Donna, Lyle, Janet, Joel, Wendy, Willy, Wade, Caroline, Lucy and Aradie for not only agreeing to the vision of Godspell but also for all of your help along the way!

Godspell is traditionally set in a junk-yard full of hippies. As time has passed, companies have approached the show with a more modern, urban uptake. Since the 2012 revival edition’s release, the old-time favourite has branched into new atmospheres, from schools to dinner tables to gardens. Originally I had planned for the cast to be the band; however after careful consideration, I realised that there would be minimal choreography and auditioning to be a quadruple threat is a big ask. Just days before the potential directors had their initial meeting with the Senior Committee, the concept of having a cast of agriculturists stuck in a drought came to me (whilst feeding calves on a hot December day, ironically). Jesus would be a firefighter, symbolising that he would save them from their ‘drought’ or worse, an eternity of fire. After approval from the Advisories, Godspell officially began.

Seeing such an array of talent at the information workshop and beaming in auditions and callbacks was no surprise; the youth of Warrnambool and districts are all extremely talented… Which made casting no easy feat! After careful consideration over a traditional Holiday Actor’s coffee (Fishies forever), Rachel, Toby, Nikki and I were pleased to announce the final cast: Tom Kelly as Jesus, Toby McKenzie as John the Baptist/Judas, Caitlin Garner, Vanessa Parkinson, Angela Kenna, Wade Fullerton, Jess Spencer, Lyndon Hurley, Annabel Ziegeler, Chloe McInnes and James Anderson. Thus became the Godspell family.

Rehearsals commenced in April and were held at the Dennington Hall as well as the Presbyterian Church and ‘Subway’ Halls. Nikki-and-da-boiz (Ryan Vince, Geoff Kilminster, Warren Easley, David Benfell, Thomas Champness and Angus McDonald) were also blessed to use the Church on Saturdays for band practice. A huge thank you from all of us to Reverend Ben Johnson for allowing us to use the Church facilities. Thank you also to Reverend Malcolm Ward for having the cast overnight at Narringal Baptist Church for our camp. Camp was a tremendous time for promoting the show with performances of ‘Prepare Ye’ and ‘Save the People’, a fantastic photoshoot by Greta Punch, rehearsing and cast bonding. You can read more about camp in Vanessa’s write-up on the website.

Both Bump In and Bump Out were the wettest days Warrnambool has witnessed this winter. Nevertheless, the stage kept dry and the haybales (all seventeen of them, two trips) reasonably intact. Thank you to all of those who helped out with the staging. Particular thanks to Wade for set design and Gareth for painting, aswell as Gary Mitchell for lending us haybales, Gary Drake for their transportation and Damien Etheridge from Agrimac for the buggy. The atmosphere of the Studio served convincingly as a dry farmyard.

Seeing everything come together in the theatre was phenomenal. Thanks goes to Tom ‘Bev’ O’Sullivan and Janet for their help with costuming, Maddie Jackway on purposely ‘tanning’ and ‘dirtying-up’ the cast with brown makeup and bronzers, Greta, Charisse, Christine Burford and Courtney Bourke for creating an inviting, beautiful front-of-house, Xavier, Jason, the Lighthouse Theatre boys and Luke Bartlett for sound and lighting, Lucy and Joel for stage and assistant stage-management, Chance Fullerton and Elise Drake for selling programs and everyone who assisted with the finishing touches of Godspell.

The theatre was ablaze with excitement for the cast. We sold out the Saturday night show by Tuesday, well before opening night. All-time favourite Tyler Hess came to ‘critique’ (or give us a boost, rather; thank you, Tyler, for all of your support and insight) on the final dress rehearsal, much to the delight and surprise of the cast.

Selling out every show was an incredible blessing. Getting to share God’s Word with approximately 500 people- through song and dance- is extremely touching for me personally, and I hope to the cast and all of those involved. The entire Godspell experience has been very close to my heart: not only has God’s love shone on stage, the love of the cast has grown more and more with each rehearsal. I love my Godspell babies to heaven and back and can’t wait to give them all bear hugs at our ‘family reunion’ (aka viewing of Godspell), especially with Rachel being back from China!

Thank you to Toby, Rachel and Nikki for being the most fantastic directorial team to work with. I hope we can share many more whimsical opportunities such as this. Thank you to the cast for not only seeing that my vision was put onto stage so phenomenally, but also for the brilliant memories we’ve been able to make and share together. Finally, thank you to the audiences who came and shared with us in the Godspell experience. I hope you enjoyed the show as much as we enjoyed putting it on for you, that you felt a part of the Godspell community and that you left the Lighthouse Studio feeling washed with all of Jesus’ love.

To all of those young actors and actresses with even the slightest vision of a potential show that they could direct: go for it! The Advisory Committee are extremely supportive and I’m sure would love to hear your expressions of interest. Being a part of the Young Director’s Program has been the most wonderful experience.

Thank you again for this opportunity.

God bless, love Rebecca x