Theater puts modern twist on timeless musical

Cast members from the Naugatuck Teen Theater’s production of ‘Godspell’ are pictured on stage. The production opens Friday night. –LUKE MARSHALL
Cast members from the Naugatuck Teen Theater’s production of ‘Godspell’ are pictured on stage. The production opens Friday night. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Teen Theater is bringing some of that old time religion and modern day comedy to the stage in its production of “Godspell.”

“Godspell” follows the story of Jesus and John the Baptist/Judas as they bring the word of God to the community. The musical, which debuted in 1971, features well known songs such as “Day By Day” and “Learn Your Lessons Well.”

“I feel the story of ‘Godspell’ draws us together as a community. The story is about people from different backgrounds, different opinions, different views, but they all come together under one belief,” ensemble cast member Sydney Lauer said.

The show opens Friday at 8 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church. Other showings are Nov. 5 and Nov. 11 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 6, Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for seniors and $15 for adult.

Director Matt Cornish said the theater chose to put on “Godspell” because it is a “phenomenal musical.”

“It’s had such legs and been performed so many times all over the world, because the message is timeless. It’s a show about what it means to be welcomed into a community, and what it means to take the ideals and energy of that community and share it with the world,” Cornish said.

Lindsey Rosa, who is part of the ensemble, said the musical is timeless.

“Godspell is more than a religion, it preaches about a story. Many people don’t realize that. All these parables are just a big story. It is a lot of fun to listen to these stories and see how we reenact them because it is different for every show,” Rosa said.

Dana Conforti, who is part of the ensemble, said the show allows each of the actors to bring a part of themselves to their characters.

“It is really fun because it is not just playing our character. We get to put our personalities into it,” Conforti said. “It’s not just specific to one person, it is ourselves.”

Jessica Sember, who is in the ensemble, said the cast has brought some modern twists to musical, which was first produced in 1971.

“We throw in comedic bits about today’s society. There is a Pokemon Go reference,” Sember said.

Quentin Labrecque, who plays the role of John the Baptist/Judas, said the actors have been working hard since rehearsals started.

“The cast is great,” Labrecque said. “There are a lot of great young actors out here, trying to pursue their dream. Everyone out here is really talented. They can all bring something to the show and give the audience what they want to see.”

Cornish encouraged people to come see the show and believes it has a message that can resonate even in today’s world.

“This show is not simply about Jesus and his disciples, this show is about us. These disciples are not the disciples of the Bible, they are people like you and me, coming from very different walks of life, and at some moments violently differing points of view,” Cornish said. “We’re standing at the end of one of the most vicious and upsetting election cycles in recent history, and we need to be reminded that we as a people are better than our vehement disagreements.”

Lauer echoed Cornish’s sentiments, saying the show’s message of putting aside differences and working as a community is something the modern world still needs.

“I feel like we could use a lot of that in today’s world with everything going on. I feel like this could help change peoples’ views on things,” Lauer said.