Satirical musical makes biblical jabs

‘Godspell’ play brings together acting community


Cody Casares / The Advocate

“Godspell” cast members (left to right) Elizabeth Martine, Rachel Garza, Umi Grant, Sean Teal and Jasmine Manahan perform a scene from the musical during a rehearsal in the Knox Center on Monday.

By Jose Chavez, Advocate Staff

The drama department concludes its 2016-17 theater season with a musical that brings biblical parables to the stage.

“Godspell” will be performed April 27-29 and May 4-6 at the John and Jean Knox Performing Arts Center on campus with shows starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for the general public.

“‘Godspell’ is about building a community,” said director Kathryn McCarty, a professor who has been teaching acting for 17 years at Contra Costa College.

She said that working together as a community is the only way to accomplish anything.

The musical, composed by Tony Award-winning Stephen Schwartz, has been performed all around the world from community theaters to Broadway.

The music hits a variety of styles ranging from gospel to vaudeville.

The narrative centers on biblical parables as well as the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament.

Each parable is told through a series of games played in each scene. The musical also touches on The Last Supper and death of Jesus Christ.

The cast of 11 students includes a variety of experience levels. McCarty said one of the biggest challenges for her was casting because not all actors sing or dance, nor do all dancers sing and act. Traditionally the actors’ characters are named after themselves, except for two characters, Jesus and Judas.

Although the cast is made up of many students who are familiar with performing plays, psychology major Victor Sanchez has no acting experience.

Sanchez plays Herbert, who is the jokester of the play.

“I’ve always been drawn to theater, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to jump into it, until now,” Sanchez said.

Journalism major Xavier Johnson plays Jesus.

He has taken theater classes since his junior year at John Swett High School but said it has been a few years since he last performed.

Johnson said to took a lot for him to “get back into the groove” of performing. He said the play can be serious but at the same time bring laughter to the audience.

Preparation for the play began in January.

McCarty said she has done a lot of research on the writer and has most of the play memorized, which helps when deciding where each actor belongs at certain times. She said the play appeals to a universal audience.

“I think it is wide open. I think it would appeal to an atheist, as well as children and adults,” McCarty said.

English major Rachel Garza said she plays the “harlot of the group” named Sofia and narrates a few parables in the play that convey a message of the importance of prayer.

She said a challenge was that there were times when all the cast members were not able to get together to rehearse.

She said it took a lot of practicing on her own, going over and over the play, to become familiar with it.

Johnson said he joined the cast not really knowing anyone else in it.

He said because the play has a message of working together and building a community, it was important for the entire cast to become comfortable with one another and come together during rehearsals.