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Director's Notes: 'Godspell'

I'd like to begin my director's notes by quoting from the author's note to the director that was in the script. Author Stephen Schwartz tells the director that "Godspell is a deceptively difficult show to direct." I couldn't agree with him more.

At first glance Act One seems to be just a series of lessons and parables while Act Two essentially follows the Passion of Christ. However, according to the author, the first act of "Godspell" is about the formation of a community. This occurs through games, storytelling, vaudeville acts, puppetry, and magic tricks. When Jesus applies clown makeup to Judas, and the rest follow his example, Jesus is having them take on an external physical manifestation that they are his disciples. However, each character takes his own internal journey. By the second act the community has been formed, and they are ready to experience the challenges of the events leading to the Crucifixion. When the makeup is removed, just before the Last Supper, the disciples have assimilated the teachings and no longer need the outward signs. When Jesus is taken from them, they remain a community, ready to share the lessons they've learned.

We expanded the number of our disciples. We more than doubled the cast of the original production. All of the students in this cast had a chance to share their special talents — whether it was singing, playing a musical instrument, telling a story, or dancing. We're very proud of these students and truly appreciate the time and energy they gave to this production. We took this journey together, and it was an enlightening one — from discussions about the great thinkers of the world ("Prologue"), to how to sustain a note vocally when hunched over at the feet of Jesus on the cross and emotionally spent ("Finale").

As always, every production at B.I. involves many, many people who give time, energy, and talent to the show. The administration, faculty, and staff at B.I. were incredibly supportive. The Drama Booster Parents were exceptional. Their commitment to their children, this high school, and this production of Godspell is to be admired. And then there are the students — they do it all — and they do it well. They truly follow the thought of St. Francis de Sales: "Be who you are and be that well."

I need to add one last note — about the Resurrection. "Godspell" was originally written without showing the Resurrection of Christ. Since then, many productions have added the Resurrection to the end of the play. I decided to stick with the original concept. Again, the author Stephen Schwartz convinced me not to add the Resurrection to our production. In his notes, he says, "Some choose to view the curtain call, in which Jesus appears, as symbolic of the Resurrection; others point to the moment when the cast raises Jesus above their heads. While either view is valid, both miss the point. 'Godspell' is about the formation of a community which carried on Jesus' teachings after he has gone — it is the effect Jesus has on the others which is the story of the show — therefore, it is very important at the end of the show that it be clear that the others have come through the violence and pain of the Crucifixion sequence and leave with a joyful determination to carry on the ideas and feelings they have learned."