I’m looking forward to Red River High School’s production of “Godspell” this weekend for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s one of my favorite Broadway shows. It led to the stardom of people like Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy and, in the orchestra pit, a young bandleader named Paul Schaffer, Canadians all.
The musical is based on the Gospel of Mathew and the teachings of Jesus. I took my then girlfriend, Ginny, to see Mary College’s production on one of our first dates when the show was still fairly new, back in the early 1970s. Along with the rest of the audience, we were invited to “take communion” on stage during intermission at which wine and crackers (with cheese, as I recall) were served. A nice touch to a Jesus-themed show.
Both “Godspell” and our subsequent marriage have lasted. “Godspell” underwent a major Broadway revival in 2012. (Ginny and I renewed our vows a few years ago as well.)
I’ll likely feel even closer to the show with Red River’s production Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You see, I’m in it. That is to say, I’m not in it, but I’m in it. What I mean is there’s a character in this version of the show named “Terry Dullum.”
Here’s the deal. In the original production, “Godspell” opens with a kind of prelude in which a group of philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Galileo and others is seen and heard espousing bits and pieces of their wisdom.
When the show was revived in 2012, the philosphers included Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Galileo, Hegel, Gibbon, L. Ron Hubbard, Jean Paul Sartre and Marianne Williamson. Red River has added Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr., Glenn Beck, Michelle Obama, Sean Hannity, Gandhi, Marilyn Haggerty and Terry Dullum. Some of them are on cell phones, which director Connie Sherwood says “deepens the isolation aspect.”
Locally, Alex Berglund has been handed the unenviable task of playing Terry Dullum. Note: He is much more handsome and very likely a bit taller than the other Terry Dullum. He wears a shirt with “Terry Dullum” printed on the front. A T-shirt, if you will.
Connie notes, “The point is that out of all the philosophy being spouted out, there is ‘a voice crying in the wilderness saying Prepare Ye the way of the Lord!’”
“All of these things happen on top of each other so you will not be able to make out what they are saying. We did make one of your lines discernible though.” The line is taken from of Facebook post of mine in response to something said by President Donald J. Trump. “Get ready, get set, fact check!”
Lauren Sanner, who plays Marilyn Hagerty, got to write her own lines.
It all takes place very quickly on stage, before the philosophers “dissolve into people experiencing Jesus and all that he tries to teach.”
All in all, I can’t wait to see it. You can, too. “Godspell runs this Friday and Saturday night at 7 and Sunday afternoon at 4 in the Red River High School Theatre. Tickets are available by calling (701) 746-2411.