It’s that time of year again. For its 15th anniversary, the Youth Performing Arts is presenting a production of “Godspell” from Aug. 22 through 24.
“This 1971 musical by John-Michael Tebelak, with music by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), is a YPA favorite, as it was the inaugural show back in 1999,” said YPA director Vanessa Novak. “The 12-player cast brings to life parables of the Bible and exemplifies the love and community of Jesus’ teachings.”
Even though it’s a returning show, the preparation for this production was something new. After auditions in May, the cast members were given the scripts and music to memorize over the summer on their own. Aug. 10 was the first day the cast were reunited to begin rehearsals.
“It’s only the second day [of rehearsals], and we’ve already got a good half of the first act blocked, which is really cool,” said senior Amanda Hennen. “Instead of building, we are polishing.”
Because of a shortage of boys in the musical, some girls have been cast in men’s roles. Hennen, for example, is playing the role of Judas.
“It’s a role meant for a guy, but it’s actually a really interesting take,” said Hennen.
Ironically, a close friend of Hennen’s off-stage is the character she will betray: high school senior Nate Brown will play Jesus.
Brown has performed in the YPA since seventh grade. This will be his second lead role, following his performance as the Cat in the Hat in “Seussical Jr.” last year.
“These youth have put their hearts and souls into it; it’s an incredible group of youth and they have something special,” said Novak.
Assisting Novak with the production is her mother, Susan Novak, who founded the YPA. Susan helps with costumes and remains a head of the organization.
Others helping run the show include Kristi Jacoway and YPA alumni Shalee Dunaski-Palmquist and Chad Ruter.
Maurya Laqua, band teacher at Century Junior High, takes care of the music side of the production.
“Godspell” is sponsored in part by the Hallberg Family Foundation, which has supported Youth Performing Arts for the last 15 years.
“It’s a great show for anyone and everyone, and we hope that you come — because it will be fantastic!” said Brown.
Performances will be held at Forest Hills United Methodist Church in Forest Lake. Show times are 7 p.m. on Aug. 22 and both 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Aug. 23 and 24.
Tickets are free, but reservations are recommended. Call 651-433-3085 or visit [email protected]