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The cast of Godspell practice for dinner theater performances, which begin Friday at 6:30. Tucker Hammock, center standing, plays Jesus.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
The cast of Godspell practice for dinner theater performances, which begin Friday at 6:30. Tucker Hammock, center standing, plays Jesus.

'Godspell' rocks with good news

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

Backstage Theatre Co.'s production of the musical "Godspell" will open Good Friday and run three weekends, bringing the parables of Jesus Christ to life at Decatur's Studio One Playhouse.

"I think this is the perfect show to perform in the Easter season," said director Darren Butler. "It's got great, uplifting music — fun with a fast beat — and a serious ending, with the crucifixion and resurrection. People will love it, with all the parables, and it works well in the intimacy of our playhouse."

Dinner theater performances catered by The Casual Gourmet are planned Friday, Saturday and April 13 and 14, while general admission performances will be April 21 and 22.

"Godspell," which was a big off-Broadway and Broadway success after opening in 1973, is based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It was conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak and has music and newer lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, who won a Grammy for "Godspell." He also wrote music for the current hit "Wicked," as well as for "Pippin" and other shows.

"This is a show that I've always wanted to do," Butler said. "Since 'Godspell' can be presented in so many ways, it has been a great deal of fun to bring everyone's ideas to the table."

Disciples and other followers of Jesus act out his teachings of love and joy, rather than hate and sadness, with rock, gospel and ragtime music and energetic choreography in what is often referred to as a rock opera.

Tucker Hammock of Russellville plays Jesus in a Superman-style T-shirt with the trademark "S," plus red suspenders, red Converse hi-tops and striped pants.

"You don't see Jesus in a lot of plays now," he said. "When I researched the part, I found it a fun story, and I think it's cool that you can tell a story in modern times and still relate how Jesus came and taught lessons on earth."

This is his first play at Studio One, though he has performed in "The Miracle Worker" in Tuscumbia and other plays and has a background in music. He sings "Save the People" and "Alas for You" solo numbers. "And I enjoy the duet I do with John the Baptist in "All for the Best," said Hammock.

Bridget Lappert of Decatur plays John the Baptist. "The most difficult part for me is the music," she said, "because it's a guy's part and I have to sing it as a girl."

She enjoys her roles, though.

"At the beginning I'm John the Baptist and all happy and fun, and at the end I'm Judas and mean and evil," she said. "Playing good and evil in the same show is pretty cool."

Caroline Duffey of Decatur, provocatively dressed in red and black as Sonia, said she is different from the rest of the disciples.

"I'm definitely more sinful, and sometimes I get the male disciples in trouble," said Duffey, who represents lust.

She enjoys her song "Turn Back O Man," which she said is "slinky, playful, kind of cabaret-style and a lot of fun to sing."

Other songs include the international hit "Day by Day," "We Beseech Thee" and "Light of the World." The parables come to life in numbers such as "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord," "Learn Your Lessons Well," "All Good Gifts" and "By My Side."

The cast of 11- to 20-year-olds also includes Catie Duffey, Kaylon King, Macy Ladner, Daniel Martin, Logan Moore, Tim Nix, Kathleen O'Hara, Prestley Bramlett, Shea Glenn, Hattie O'Hara, Maddie Hutt and Misty Peden.

If you go

What: The musical “Godspell” by Backstage Theatre Co.

When: Dinner theater performances at 6:30 p.m. April 6, 7, 13 and 14 and general admission performances at 7:30 p.m. April 21 and 2 p.m. April 22

Where: Studio One Playhouse, 214 E. Moulton St., Decatur

Tickets: $25 for shows with dinner and $10 for the April 21-22 general admission shows; call Studio One, 308-2300, for reservations, or for information, check

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