Godspell Actors Connect with Characters and Message

godspell_pam_foreman.jpgGodspell cast members rehearsing. Caleb Sharp center of circle, right. Photo by Pam Foreman

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Baptist Mission’s production of Godspell, about the life of Jesus, began last week, and KMXT invited a few members of the cast over to the studio for a conversation on Tuesday’s Talk of the Rock.

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You don’t need to be religious for a musical to feel like a religious experience, but for some people, the two do cross over. That’s the case for one of the actors in Godspell.

Leslie Leyland Fields plays a follower of Jesus and says she feels a personal connection to the script.

“There are these moments like when Wes and I are the Pharisees and he’s condemning us, and he’s talking about the difference between pure religion and false religion, and I just really take those words in. The words have such a ring of truth and then the other actors and us also, we’re trying to sort of embody and enact those truths, and I think that’s what makes it really powerful.”

She says she’s also in tune with her character’s sense of wonder about the parables.

“As I sit there in the role of Robin, I do feel like I’m hearing them new again and even though last week we performed every single night through the dress rehearsals and through our performances, and I still – you know my character, is wide-eyed and taking it all in, and that makes me wide-eyed.”

If you’ve never seen either the movie or performance of Godspell, you may have seen another famous take on the life of Jesus: Jesus Christ Superstar. Fields says in the early 70s, Jesus was a popular creative focus.

“It was the hippie era, it was the time of the Jesus movement, and so Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar both came out of that – came out of the Jesus movement. And both of them tell the story of the life of Christ, and they have different perspectives. There’s a different, I think, tone between the two musicals, but both were huge Broadway hits, and they’re also part of that whole new wave of the rock musical.”

Caleb Sharp, who plays Jesus, says this musical focuses on a particular point in the life of Christ.

“It condenses a three-year section of Jesus’ life where he was going around telling parables and beginning to come onto the stage in Israel and it kinda condenses it almost down into one day where all of sudden Jesus is there and he gets a splash of water from John the Baptist, and then it’s just right into tons of great stories and good songs.”

Sharp also makes a spiritual connection with his character, which he says was part of his process in learning how to perform the role.

“It’s a very personal subject for me and so settling into it was through prayer and just getting to know Jesus through the script, getting to know Jesus through the Bible, and it was pretty natural, honestly.”

The musical runs through Sunday at the Kodiak Baptist Mission Heritage Center and tickets are available for $10 at the Kodiak Public Library or the Kodiak Baptist Mission office. You may also buy them at the door.

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