July 10--Hula hoops, glow bracelets, jumping ropes -- those are some of the props for a kid-friendly version of a Bible-inspired musical.
The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre will present "Godspell Jr." this weekend for three performances at the theater on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre.
"We have a little bit of everything," Samantha Schugardt, director and choreographer, said as Abagail Barhight hula-hooped in the aisle before a recent rehearsal.
Stephen Schwartz's "Godspell" opened on Broadway in 1976 (off in 1971), presenting Jesus Christ's parables interspersed with modern music and traditional hymn lyrics. The junior version is shortened and rearranged, but preserves the main story line.
"It still takes you through some of the stories in the Gospel," Schugardt said.
The Little Theatre production will be set in a playground, so the actors can swing, ride a teeter-totter and play hopscotch throughout the play. "Godspell Jr." is very customizable that way, since the stage directions are left vague, Schugardt said.
"They're all just hanging out after school," she said. "It's very open-ended. It gives you room for your own interpretation."
There's plenty of songs to complement the stories, like the hit, "Day By Day," which reached 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1972.
Barhight, who plays a female Judas, said one of her favorites is "All for The Best," because it's a big tap-dancing number. Her favorite part about acting is that "you get to be other characters, but still yourself. You can make it your own," she said.
Joseph Maguschak, who plays Jesus, watched movies of other actors playing the Christian icon.
He said it's been pretty easy to play Jesus, since he gets to be nice and tell the stories.
Schugardt said rehearsals have been going very well. Many of the young actors perform in as many shows as they can throughout the season, and it's exciting to see what they'll be able to do over the next 10 years, she added.
"This is probably one of the best groups I've ever worked with," she said.
The Little Theatre's production of "Godspell Jr." will be dedicated in memory of Mark Marhelko of Zion Grove, who died in June of cancer at age 44. Marhelko's daughters are involved in the play -- two as actors and one as staff.
The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre is asking the public to help continue the almost-century long tradition of community theater.
As the theater group heads into its 92nd season, they are hoping to raise $10,000 for improvements to the theater building on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre.
To donate or to learn more, visit ltwb.org and gofundme.com/9dyzr0
The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre has added some additional audition dates for its September show, "Catch Me if You Can."
Interested parties can audition at the theater at 537 Main St., Wilkes-Barre, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday or 6 p.m. Sunday. Show dates are Sept. 6-7 and 12-14.
(c)2014 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
Visit The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com
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