Fredonia theatre department adds extra ‘Godspell’ performance

The Fredonia Depart-ment of Theatre and Dance has added an extra performance of its production of “Godspell” due to the fact the original six dates have all sold out.

This additional performance will be presented on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. in Bartlett Theatre at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Tickets go on sale today through the Fredonia Campus Ticket Office at 673-3501 or fredonia.edu/tickets.

Performances on Oct. 21, 22, 23, 27, 28 and 29 are sold out.

“Godspell” was the first hit musical for composer Stephen Schwartz, who went on to compose “Wicked” and “Pippin.” This Theatre and Dance production opens the 2016-17 Walter Gloor Mainstage Series at Fredonia.

The Mainstage production is directed by Theatre and Dance faculty member Paul Mockovak. His recent department credits include “The Laramie Project/The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” and “Chicago.”

Assisting Mockovak are two members of the School of Music faculty. The music director is James Welch and Laurie Tramuta is the vocal coach.

In “Godspell,” Christ and his followers tell different parables by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques and hefty doses of comic timing. Messages of kindness, tolerance and love are brought to life through a variety of songs.

“This is a deeply human story of the building and developing of a community,” Mockovak said. “There are lessons, parables which touch us, teach us and remind us of the value of these lessons. Of equal value is Stephen Schwartz’s music which captures the essences of the moments, is moving, uplifting, entertaining and enlightening as needed.”

“Godspell” opened off Broadway on May 17, 1971. Its Broadway debut came in 1976 and it has been the subject of various tours and revivals since. The most recent Broadway revival came in 2011.

Mockovak explained the Mainstage production is based on a 2012 revised version that has some updated text and revised musical arrangements. He said the “essence of the show” remains the same.

“There are moments in the libretto where the authors write that some liberties may be taken depending on the strengths of the casting and I have tried to use that to our advantage,” the director said. “One highlight I had not anticipated was the incredible musical arrangements of the revised version. In the original, there were a great many solos. In the revised version, the ensemble is added in almost every case and the sound is wonderful. I’ve added another element to ‘Day by Day’ which makes it quite beautiful.”

More than 130 Fredonia students are involved in this production. Mockovak noted they are all vital to the success of the overall production.

“We have an incredibly talented cast of 10 Musical Theatre majors whose training in all areas of voice, acting, improv, and dance is utilized,” the director said. “We also have a wonderfully talented design production team.”

Mockovak said the student team is rounded our by four musicians in the pit orchestra, three on the stage management team, one assistant director and approximately 48 between the design team, running crew and board operators. There are also almost 70 students on the freshmen crews that work to build the set, hang and focus the lights, construct the costumes, among other tasks.

Mockovak believes the setting of Bartlett Theatre will give the Mainstage production an “up close and personal” feel.

“It is my hope that the audience will be entertained, leave with a cathartic but positive feeling of love, hope and joy – perhaps even humming ‘Day by Day,'” Mockovak said.

Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre Internation-al, “Godspell” features music and lyrics by Schwartz. It was conceived and originally directed by John-Mihael Tebelak.

This Walter Gloor Mainstage event is presented as part of the Lake Shore Savings Season.