UST and CSC present 'Godspell' Nov. 19-23


Members of the ensemble cast of "Godspell" rehearse in Foley Theater.
From the left are: Adara Bryan, Kelsye Gould, Katherine Seitz, Ryanna Glentz, Emily Temple, Lilah Solo, Pat Gustafson, John Hartberg, Andrew Menke, Josh Anderson and Frank Wagner.

UST and CSC present 'Godspell' Nov. 19-23

Students from the University of St. Thomas and the College of St. Catherine will perform the 1970 musical based on the Gospel of St. Matthew, "Godspell," at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 19-22, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, in Foley Theater on St. Thomas' campus in St. Paul.

The show concludes the university's 30th annual Sacred Arts Festival.

Tickets are $5 for general admission and free to students, faculty and staff with ID from the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Augsburg College, Macalester College and Hamline University). Seating is limited; reservations will be taken at The O'Shaughnessy Ticket Office at St. Catherine. For reservations, call (651) 690-6700.

"Godspell," by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak, opened off Broadway in 1971 – a year after the rock opera that catapulted Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice to fame: "Jesus Christ Superstar." Titled for an archaic spelling of the word, "gospel," the musical originated in 1970 as Tebelak's master's thesis project and was performed by students from Carnegie Mellon University.

A signature "Godspell" song, "Day by Day," reached No. 13 on Billboard's pop singles chart in 1972, and the musical became one of the longest-running off Broadway before moving to Broadway in June 1976 for 527 more performances. The musical's Toronto production in 1972-73 became legendary, with key cast members including Victor Garber (who is best known for his starring role in the television series "Alias"), the late Gilda Radner (an original cast member on "Saturday Night Live") and Martin Short (another "SNL" veteran).

"Godspell" cast members Lilah Solo (left) and Kelsye Gould.

The St. Thomas production of "Godspell" has an ensemble cast: St. Catherine students Adara Bryan, Kelsye Gould and Katherine Seitz, and St. Thomas students Josh Anderson, Steven Broszko, Caitlin Dolan, Ryanna Glentz, Pat Gustafson, John Hartberg, Andrew Menke, Lilah Solo, Emily Temple and Frank Wagner.

Artistic director is Jo Ann Holonbek, who has taught theater and directed productions at St. Catherine and St. Thomas for 35 years. Robert Strusinski, chapel music director at St. Thomas and director of the university's renowned Liturgical Choir, is musical director.

St. Thomas theater alumni Gregg Sawyer '79 and Greg Morrissey '71 serve as choreographer and set designer, respectively. St. Thomas student Mary Gustafson (whose twin brother, Pat, is a cast member) is stage manager.

"Godspell" may be the last production for Foley Theater, which has been home to St. Thomas thespians since 1958. The 280-seat Foley, which originally was a campus auditorium and was connected to the old college armory when it was built in 1914, is slated for demolition when the university constructs new athletic and recreation facilities. Construction could begin as early as spring 2010.

Among students in "Godspell" are:

Seated, from the left: Adara Bryan, Ryanna Glentz, Lilah Solo, Frank Wagner and Kelsye Gould. Standing, from the left, are: Mary Gustafson (stage manager), Josh Anderson, Katherine Seitz, Emily Temple and Pat Gustafson. Standing on the ladder are John Hartberg (left) and Andrew Menke.