Tonawanda News — The Good Samaritan. The Prodigal Son. The Sower of the Seeds.
Starting tonight, some of the most iconic stories and images from the world’s most read book, the material of countless sermons and Sunday school classes, will be presented on stage at the Ghostlight Theatre in North Tonawanda as part of “Godspell,” the musical based mostly upon the Gospel of Matthew.
Director Debby Koszelak Swartz said this marks the first time the theater group has taken on this particular musical, which has its challenges.
“The thing about ‘Godspell’ is almost every number is a chorus number,” she said. “Almost all of them are huge numbers, singing and dancing. It’s crazy. It’s a lot of work. But I have an extraordinarily talented cast.”
While “Godspell” tends to be famously open to a director’s interpretation, with dramatically different incarnations depending on setting, cast and other variables, Swartz said that she aimed for a show that would be accessible to the audience.
“The way we approach the show ... We try to make it more audience-friendly, I guess you could say, to make it clear,” she said. “When I saw it years ago, I said, ‘OK, I like the music, but what did we just see?’ There are a lot of well-known parables ... old-time Sunday school favorites.
“We try to make it more friendly, more clear, so that the audience understands what’s going on here. I just tried to make our interpretation extremely understandable.”
The goal is helped by the presence of Swartz’s “extraordinary cast,” led Daniel Torres of North Tonawanda, who plays the role of Jesus in the show.
Torres said it was a challenge to prepare for the role, to bring a central religious figure to life on the stage.
“When I first got the role, I was excited ... and that was the first thing that went through my mind. ‘Oh my God, how do I even reference this?’ “ he said. “You just have to let everything go. That question, ‘what would Jesus do?’ just pops up in every situation.