Niles High School students to perform ‘Godspell’ March 9, 10

Published 8:47 am Friday, March 1, 2019

NILES — Niles High School students will bring to life parables from The Gospel – only with a modernized twist that incorporates the streets of New York City, jazzy dance numbers and soulful singing. The production is none other than a remastered rendition of “Godspell,” created by Stephen Schwartz.

Students will debut “Godspell” on the Niles High School stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, with an additional showing at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10. Tickets can be purchased in advanced by contacting the school or at the door. General admission is $7. Tickets for seniors 65 and up are $5.

While the play is based on religious concepts, director Matt Hunckler said it is likely to appeal to a broad audience.

“One of the neat things about this is that Stephen Schwartz wrote this not because he was trying to be religious, but it’s about how to build a city,” he said. “[And] how to get along together with people. There are a lot of lessons in that.”

Hunckler said he picked the play because he loved the music in the production. He said he knew it would resonate with students also.

“It’s so fun,” Hunckler said. “It’s upbeat. I knew this group would love to sing and dance.”

More than 50 students involved in the production were singing and dancing Wednesday afternoon as the rehearsed the play in the high school auditorium.

Kaleb Ott, a sophomore, plays the role of Judas and John the Baptist. Compared to other characters, Ott said Judas’ personality stands in stark contrast because he is a skeptic and revolutionary.

“He questions things. He doesn’t believe in following without a mind or will,” Ott said. “It’s kind of fun. It’s not that many lines, but every line is important to the story and speaks to the message, which is let’s all be together. Let’s be friends. Let’s join in unity.”

Nick Headley, a senior, is starring as Jesus in the production. Besides the New York City- backdrop, Headley said there a few other modern parts of The Gospel story people will notice. Some of the students will dress as comic book characters and the language of the story is also modernized. The morals of the story will also ring true to current times, he said.

“What goes around comes around. If you think life is happy and … you help out with the community, your friends, just basically be a good person, you can have a good life,” Headley said.

For many of the students acting in the play, the high school’s production has created an opportunity for them to form new friendships and find a place to exercise their passion for the arts.

“This is my very first production,” said Jordan Jameson, a freshman. “It is really cool how everyone can come together as a whole group. I’ve made some really good friends over these past few weeks and it is just amazing.”

Addie LaLime, a sophomore who plays the character of Morgan, said she likes seeing the more seasoned actors support the freshman and first-time actors on stage.

“When I was [a freshman] my favorite part was seeing all the experienced people act,” LaLime said. “I’m glad that [the freshman] joined, for one, and [two] got over their fear of being on stage and three that they just got to watch us and we got to help them grow.”

For his part, Seth Pompey said he liked being around other students who share a passion for theater.

“Being that environment makes you open up more and gets you out of your shell and allows you to just be more yourself,” Pompey said.

The students encouraged people to see the production and the hard work they have poured into it.

“All of us put our heart and soul into this thing,” Ott said. “It’s nice to get appreciated. It’s nice to be known and to know that we are not doing this for no purpose.”