Lights will help ‘Godspell’ shine

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Jordan Strickler, left, and Reagan Webster rehearse a scene from “Godspell Junior,” which Iola Community Theatre will stage at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center Friday and Sept. 19 and 20.

Those who attend performances of Iola Community Theatre’s “Godspell Junior” are in for a technical treat. ICT, through a $2,000 Sleeper Trust grant, leased special “intelligent” moving lights for the play’s three performances, which start Friday.
“The four lights will move and dance with people on stage,” said Richard Spencer, the play’s director. “They will be similar to what people are used to seeing on such television shows as ‘American Idol.’”
The lights will be mounted at the front of the stage and will cast lights of different color, size, pattern and intensity throughout the production.
“They can rotate 360 degrees and tilt 180 degrees, which will permit them to highlight performers even while they’re in the audience area,” Spen-cer said, which is how the play begins.
“We’re fortunate to have the Sleeper money so we could rent the lights. To buy the four would cost about $80,000.”
Jeff Jordan, Bowlus technical director, said the light directions would be programmed into the Bowlus light board after they arrived Monday. During performances the lights then will be controlled by the flip of switches on the control board.
“This will be our first show ever with moving lights,” Jordan said. “They will do what before might have taken as many as 30 conventional lights.”
Another lighting feature was acquired this summer when the Bowlus Center added a second spotlight. The two are mounted on either side of the balcony and will better illuminate actors, giving emphasis at specific points in the show.
A hazer also will be used during the show to create a fine shadowy mist on stage to accentuate light beams.

THE PLAY is based on the Gospel of Matthew and follows Jesus’ journey and teachings through to the crucifixion. Much of dialogue is presented through songs, which bring to life parables Jesus used to spread His message.
This is the second version of “Godspell” for ICT. The first, 11 years ago, had an adult audience. The “Junior” rendition features all students actors.
“Our royalty contract requires none to be older than 18,” Spencer noted.
Only one, Sabra Aguirre, is 18. Four of the cast — Maggie Terhune, Jordan Strickler, Cody Cokely and Drew Smith — are 14. Other cast members are Jasmine Bannister, Madison Ford, Skylar Strickler, Reagan Webster and Kent Toland.
“This is a fantastic cast,” Spencer said. “It’s unusual to find 10 young people with such good voices. Some are amazingly good. Working with them has been a real pleasure.”
Rehearsals started five weeks ago and for more than two weeks special attention has been given to refining sound elements, including coordination and tweaking of individual microphones each player wears.
“There is a tremendous amount of technical work — for sound, lighting and cues — that will have gone into this play by the time it is first seen by an audience,” Spencer said.

GODSPELL dates to 1970 and originally was staged on a set made to resemble a New York City school yard. Since then settings have varied.
The scene for the ICT production is a construction site. Props include scaffolding and large construction boxes.
“All of them, including Jesus, wear tool belts,” Spencer said. “They also will have hard hats and clothing you’d expect a construction worker to wear.”
A few of the songs from the original version have been omitted. Ones that have to do with “the big sins,” Spencer said.
Assisting Spencer with production are Kim Strickler, vocals, and Liz Ulrich, choreography. In addition to the Sleeper grant, money from the Whitehead Trust helped with royalty payments.
“Iola’s so fortunate to have the Sleeper and Whitehead trusts, as well as others, so we can do many things that otherwise would be financially impossible,” Spencer said.
Tickets, $12 for adults and $8 for students, are available at Sophisticated Rose in downtown Iola. Performances Friday and Sept. 19 will start at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sept. 20.