JEFFERSON CITY – It’s not often that Broadway meets the Bible, but that’s what in store Sept. 23-24 for mid-Missouri when “Godspell” comes to the Miller Performing Arts Center here.
The present-day dramatization of the Gospel of Matthew is a joint production of the local Stained Glass Theatre of Mid-Missouri and Jefferson City’s Concord Baptist Church. The cast and band includes members of Concord, Memorial Baptist and Cornerstone Baptist Churches also in Jefferson City, as well as several other community churches.
Mark Meyers, worship leader of Concord and one of the show’s co-musical directors, has been rehearsing as the show’s John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot since July.
“It’s sketches, skits, parables and songs told through 13 different actors as Jesus’s disciples,” he said. “It starts off with Jesus speaking everything into existence, and then it goes through various different periods in history with people trying to dumb down that theology and come up with their own philosophies. In the end it’s the story of Jesus teaching His disciples that this is what you have heard, and this how it should be. Each character has something they have to give up to follow Jesus. It’s told in a modern sense, but it goes through Jesus’s baptism, the Last Supper, the crucifixion and resurrection with some great songs.”
Two of the more popular songs from the original 1971 Broadway production of “Godspell” include “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” and “Day by Day.”
Meyers said that not only is it based on the book of Matthew, but the inspiration to mount a production of the musical came from a sermon series on Matthew.
“We spent more than a year in the book of Matthew,” he said. “I was in Godspell when I was in high school and each time we studied a passage that was in the show, I kept thinking how great it would be to be able to do the show as a church.”
Meyers said the show is a good way to reach out to people who may not be eager to set foot in a church, but would be willing to see a two-hour musical – even a theologically conservative one – in a secular theater. It is a good example of how Christians and pop culture aren’t necessarily antithetical, he said.
“Arts is an area where the church has dropped the ball,” he said. “We have a tendency to see a lot of the personalities involved in the arts as sort of ‘dirty’ and we’re not really willing to interact with them. But I think we’re missing out on a huge mission field. That’s why I’m glad we’re not doing this in our church building, but we’re getting it out into the community through a reputable theater.
“I think we’re going to see fruit from this,” he said. “I’m not saying hundreds of people are going to come to Christ on these two nights, but I think our churches will be blessed by people who see that we’re trying to reach out into their community.”
Meyers said the musical is acceptable for and accessible to all ages.
All proceeds from the show will benefit Missouri Disaster Relief. The Sept. 23 show is at 7 p.m and the Sept. 24 show times are 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at concordjc.org or at the door.
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer