Salvation Army's 'Godspell' offers sense of community

Salvation Army's 'Godspell' offers sense of community

July 20th, 2012 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Art

IF YOU GO

What: "Godspell."

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday; 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: ReCreate Café, Salvation Army 614 Corps, 800 McCallie Ave.

Admission: $10, $8 seniors/students.

Phone: 756-1023.

Website: www.csarmy.org.

Art will imitate life tonight when a wandering band of actors portrays a wandering band that follows Jesus in The Salvation Army 614 Corps' presentation of "Godspell" at the Corps' ReCreate Café.

The musical, based on the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, uses both housed and homeless actors in the work by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak.

The actors are working under the direction of Deborah Kirby, a theater faculty member at Covenant College, and Steve Ray and Gaye Jeffers, faculty members at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"Deborah has done a really good job encouraging us to see we're all just like [homeless individuals]," said Tenika Dye, the ReCreate Café artistic director who's also in the cast. "We're all kind of wandering around. Our characters are not part of the [mainstream] community. Each of the characters is on an individual journey to Jesus."

Though the characters of Jesus, John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot are larger roles, the rest of the cast form somewhat of a group, lending further credence to the community theme.

Whether you are religious or not, said cast member Ellen Poole, 23, the actors understand their characters gain "a sense of community [as the musical progresses] and become a part of something bigger than themselves."

Cast member Chet Rivera, 50, a native of Honduras whose last theatrical role was in "Li'l Abner" in the seventh grade, said the musical has "an energy to it."

"We're all connected," said Rivera. "['Godspell'] lends itself to that right off the bat. You catch yourself wanting to be a part of it."

The musical, though based on the Bible, is staged in modern times with modern music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns. One of the songs, "Day by Day," became a theatrical standard.

Salvation Army 614 Corps Capt. John-Phil Winter said the musical's structure of hope, disappointment and hope restored -- told through parables -- is familiar to many people since its source is the Bible.

It's something, he said, "we all know about."