Tonawanda News

March 7, 2013

Day by Day, St. Joe's readies for "Godspell" production

St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute presents 'Godspell'

By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — KENMORE — Roles don’t get much more iconic than this.

When Patrick Blosat of Buffalo was cast as Judas Iscariot in the St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute production of “Godspell,” the musical based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, he saw quickly that it was likely to be a very interesting experience.

“I realized it was going to be a long road, because Judas is clearly the antagonist and the villain,” Blosat said during an interview this week. “Well, I don’t see myself as a villain, I see myself as a rather nice guy.”

Jimmy Corra, who plays John the Baptist in the musical, has somewhat of the same challenge. His character, he said, represents the Old Testament, has a real fire-and-brimstone mentality and has to come in screaming.

“I’ve found that it’s a difficult role to get into, because I have to be mad at everyone,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not usually like that. But I try to understand what he was about. It’s been a fantastic experience.”

“Godspell,” which runs from Friday to Sunday at Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College, is St. Joe’s follow-up to its Kenny Award-winning production of “Anything Goes,” which took home last year’s overall award for outstanding performance, three of the four outstanding actor/actress awards and the honors for vocal performance. 

In contrast to the light-hearted Cole Porter production, the musical by Stephen Schwartz depicting part of the life of Jesus Christ was described by both students as “powerful.”

“To get another interpretation of what Jesus Christ’s message was during his life ... it’s a very powerful show,” Blosat said. “Now that I understand the show, I realize our acting and our singing mean more than anything else. We’re basically acting out the life of Jesus.”

Corra agreed.

“It’s been an incredible experience so far. We’ve been rehearsing since early January and it’s coming together very well,” he said. “I think the show is very moving and very uplifting. The two acts are very different. One is very uplifting, two is acting out the Passion. It slows down and takes a sadder tone, although it’s uplifting at the end. I think overall it’s very good material.”

While Blosat and Corra, along with St. Joe’s junior Gabe Amato, who plays the lead role of Jesus, form a key core of the production, Blosat said that the musical is very much an ensemble piece.

“Usually shows don’t really incorporate the whole cast, but I feel this is a great opportunity to let everyone have their own say,” he said. “‘Godspell’ is a show revolving around the ensemble. Everyone gets their share and opportunity to act and sing and all that kind of stuff. This show and this production lets everyone show their true potential.”

“We’ve become a family and a real community and that’s aided us in making the show as good as we can make it,” Corra said.

Not only have the students gained a new perspective through the musical, but also through a service project undertaken by the cast and crew during its production and called “Godspell in Action.”

“The idea for the service project was born out of a conversation between directors on the production staff during one of the first rehearsals,” producer Catherine Ward wrote in an email. “Our director, Paschal Frisina III ... had the vision of projecting pictures of the cast, taken in the city of Buffalo, as part of the song ‘Beautiful City’ ... even moreso we felt it would be appropriate to have the students doing some kind of service that was literally helping to beautify the city. 

“I personally have had experience with Journey’s End Refugee Services and thought we might be able to connect the two.”

The group “adopted” a family from Nepal, and, over the course of six weeks, collected “everything needed to set up a family in an apartment,” Ward wrote. Everything from dishes and toiletries to furniture was collected and stored at the school until Feb. 22, when the cast and crew moved them to a house in Black Rock. And it didn’t end there.

“Students scrubbed the kitchen and bath, made beds, carried everything up two flights of stairs ... We even got to meet our family, a couple with three beautiful little girls. When we left knowing they still needed so much more ... several of us, including the adults were pretty overwhelmed,” Ward wrote. The group is still collecting donations for the family.

Video taken when the students were working at the apartment will be used as part of a video presentation during “Beautiful City” in the second act of the the musical, Ward said. “The kids (and the adults involved) learned a heck of a lot about applying the gospel values that the play is built upon.”

Tickets can be purchased at the St. Joe’s main office from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 874-4024.

IF YOU GO • WHAT: "Godspell," presented by St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute • WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday • WHERE: Rockwell Hall auditorium, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo • FOR MORE INFORMATION: Tickets can be purchased from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the St. Joe's Main Office, 845 Kenmore Ave. For more information, call 874-4024.