'Godspell' Cast Virtual Meeting: ‘Involve Your Soul’

A quartet of cast members from the 2012 Broadway revival of Godspell engaged in a virtual visit with Upper Schoolers who are preparing their own presentation of the musical this spring.
 
The Broadway foursome spoke to ’Wick thespians about what it took to bring Godspell to the stage “in the round” in 2012 — and offered some down-to-earth advice and inspiration for how the teens might bring their own kind of sparkle to the musical in the middle of a pandemic.
 
Actors and actresses have been double-cast for this spring’s production of Godspell; two full casts are rehearsing and taking over the entirety of Baker Theater for shows that will be pre-recorded and live streamed in March.
 
Serving up doses of inspiration and encouragement during the hour-long chat before rehearsal on February 3 were Broadway actors George Salazar, Telly Leung, Julia Mattison, and Nick Blaemire.
 
“I thought it was perfect,” said Brittney Redler Ph.D., Upper School music director and Middle School theater and chorus teacher. “I so appreciated their humanity, love, and humor — it was exactly what we all needed.
 
“To be frank, the music rehearsal that followed was full of noticeably more heart and expression!” she continued. “What an amazing opportunity to hear stories not only from behind the scenes and on the stage during shows, but also from their own experiences, perspectives, and journeys with the material. They were refreshingly vulnerable, and I think that spoke very deeply to the kids as they prepare for this show.”
 
Redler organized the session with the help of her husband, Zach, a colleague on projects with Leung.
 
A question-and-answer session toward the end of the chat included a query about how to “sing well and dance effectively.” It was a question that led the Broadway veterans to reflect on how best to connect with a virtual audience.
 
“Every experience I’ve had of watching a performance alone has been really moving to me,” said Blaemire. “Because it just feels like we as a community and as a species are fighting to connect. That’s what the show’s about, and that’s what this time is about, and that’s what Telly and Julia were saying about how to use this moment.
 
“You are in a unique position to write this version of Godspell,” he said. “The singing and dancing thing — there’s a really fake idea of achievement for how you accomplish the technical aspects of the art form, when they are absolutely secondary to emotional aspects. The more you can believe that, the further you’ll get.
 
“It’s the people who can kick their face and do three pirouettes and sing a high B but can’t involve their actual soul who stop faster,” he said. “It’s scarier to put yourself out there. But if you can reprioritize and use this experience to underline that for yourself, you’re setting yourself up for a great life in the arts.”
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Brunswick School Greenwich, CT

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