“COVID was in full swing. Players’ Season 103 was a skeleton of what was intended. Playreading Committee proposed a Season 104 slate including Godspell-2012 Revised Version. An outdoor production had been discussed. Operations Administrator, Jessica Lowe, suggested Players look into holding Godspell at Wenonah Park. Tracy Teich, Board Treasurer, reached out to Mike Bacigalupo, Chief Operating Officer of State Theatre. He offered time to hold Godspell at Wenonah Park, July 2021.
When I heard this, I thought—that’s months from now, outdoors in the park, and (optimist, that I am) things had to improve by then. I contacted Kevin Cole. (We’ve done over 20 productions together.) Would he be interested? He bought in. We chose Godspell as entertaining with a message the USA could use right now. We submitted a proposal in December 2020; the Board accepted it; and we were off and running.
First, check out the newly renovated shell. It looks great. Acoustics are greatly improved. Backstage is better suited for performers. All great. Then we measured the shell, 60 feet by 35; Players, 30 feet by 18. Never fear! Kevin and I had directed Annie Get Your Gun years ago in a horse arena in Kentucky using a motor scooter and real horses as part of the show. Just a new set of challenges.
We called together a crew of amazing Players tech people. I asked Larry and Kelly Jacobs to direct with me; and Kevin looked to Kathy and Jim Pawloski for assistance and possible back up. We held auditions in February—COVID auditions. Make a home video singing a song of your choice and recite a nursery rhyme. We cast from the videos, no opportunity for questions or requests.
Godspell is usually performed with ten people, although you have permission to use more. We thought of the bigger space to fill, of theatre people who had been inactive for over a year, and decided we’d cast everyone—one of the best decisions we have ever made. They fill the park with absolutely beautiful singing. They delight the eye with Kelly’s choreography. They work together as one of the best teams Kevin and I have ever shared.
Sure, we rehearsed behind masks for a long time. Sure, we observed social distancing as much as possible. Sure, the whole show was a challenge and a task. But Kevin and I find this one of most satisfying shows we’ve done together and one of the most loving casts and crews with whom we’ve worked.
Godspell is a show promoting love, harmony, caring—all things the USA can use more of today. So, costumes will represent occupations of heroes from throughout the pandemic. When they join hands at the end of the show, they will be singing to you to share the message of Godspell.”