Rogers aims for dandy debut with splashy musical ‘Godspell’

Peter Schultz as Jesus leads a production number at rehearsal for "Godspell." (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

Almost everyone in Roger High School’s production of “Godspell,” slated to open Thursday, is a theatre rookie, but they intend to make their school’s first musical a polished one.

The cast has very experienced leadership in director Warren Schueneman and music director Terrell Beaudry.

Jack Fitzgerald as Judas leads a production number. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“He is very demanding, and he wants the show to look good, and it will,” said junior Jack Fitzgerald, referring to Schueneman. Fitzgerald has one of the two main roles, Judas.

“We are having a blast,” said senior Peter Schultz, who plays Jesus. “The people we’re working with are super. They really know what they are doing. The actors are all in their first year, and it’s fun to see everyone coming out of their shells.”

“Godspell” depicts Biblical parables and teachings, in a 1970’s flavor, so you’ll see lots of bell bottoms and flowers and headbands. The Star News took a look Wednesday at the first dress rehearsal. It’s a lively play and the cast showed talent, energy and enthusiasm.

Other actors are Jacob Chase, Trenton Wyman, Alyssa Durst, Alexa Gerber, Allee Schaeffer, Tolu Ekisola, Natalie Thoresen, Alythia Scully and Trevor Springer.

Alythia Scully sings, resplendent in 1970's psychedelic colors. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

RHS, which has no theatre, has done one-act competition plays but this is the first full-length play of any kind.

Beaudry, choir director at Elk River for several years who took over the Rogers choirs as well this year, initiated the project after polling RHS students about what opportunity they’d like that they have not yet had. There was no money in the budget so he is also spearheading the effort to raise $24,000 to cover the costs.

Schueneman, retired Anoka-Ramsey theatre professor, has a long resume including 13 musicals at Elk River Community Theatre.

“It will be a major production. That’s the way I work,” said Schueneman.

Fitzgerald was one of the students who asked for a chance to be in a musical.

“I was in the Land of Lakes Choirboys, but my voice changed,” he said, “and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to sing again …. We are having a lot of fun and have made great friends.”

Alexa Gerber sings to Peter Schultz' Jesus character in this scene. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Schultz lives in Rogers and formerly attended RHS but is now a senior at Spectrum, the Elk River charter school. He said his students who knew him brought up his name when the directors were looking for the key role of Jesus. Schultz, a fine singer and very athletic, had small parts in a Spectrum play and a community theatre play.

Until this week the practices were held in the high school choir room, but it will be presented at Rogers Middle School, where a temporary stage with rented lights and sound were set up this week. With a seating capacity of about 300 there, “Godspell” will be presented on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

For ticket information, visit the web site www.rhsmusicals.com.

 

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