Category: Performance

Godspell 2016

Emma singing "O Bless the Lord" in Godspell, 2016

Emma singing “O Bless the Lord” in Godspell, 2016

Tuesday, 24th May

I’m currently singing the role of Joanne in the Eastwood Uniting Church Musical Society’s production of Godspell.


Shows are entering into the final weekend:

Friday 27th May at 8pm, and Saturday 28th May at 1pm and 7pm.

We’re expecting the weekend to sell out, so make sure to buy tickets ahead of time here!

Godspell is a joyful, upbeat show by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, The Baker’s Wife), based on Biblical accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, but set in a contemporary era.

The show is not built on a traditional plot, but rather focuses on Jesus and a small group of followers who share and enact stories/parables and lessons using a range of theatrical styles, storytelling techniques, games and much comedy. In the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed, crucified and resurrected.

Although Godspell has set characters and a script, just exactly who those characters are (eg. what “type” of people they are) can vary greatly from production to production, particularly according to where the show is set.

This production of Godspell will be set in the vicinity of a modern-day Sydney railway station. As such, the characters are likely to come from a cross-section of contemporary Sydney society in a wide range of ages, and cultural/socioeconomic backgrounds.

We are excited to be performing Stephen’s re-worked 2012 version of the Godspell score with the original libretto.

Godspell – Closing Weekend

He healeth thine infirmities, and ransoms thee from death... 'O Bless the Lord,' Godspell

He healeth thine infirmities, and ransoms thee from death… ‘O Bless the Lord,’ Godspell


Monday, 23rd May 2016

We’re heading toward the closing weekend of EUCMS’ production of Godspell. With many sold-out performances, there are only three chances left to make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em feel all the feels and sing along in their heads. (Spoiler: there’s lots of catchy material that sends the audience off humming into the afternoon and evening).

It’s been a vocally demanding show, with the ten major principles on-stage for the entirety of both acts. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, that’s a feat of strength (and lots of creative ways to stock up on water: someone just recommended a CamelPac to me yesterday. While I’m sure I’d be well-hydrated, I’m not convinced it would be in-character for Joanne.)

The Husband asked me yesterday: “What’s the motivation for Joanne?” Godspell is a bit of an unusual musical, because there isn’t much plot and character development outside of Jesus’ journey with John/Judas (John the Baptist and Judas are portrayed by the same actor during the show). But the wonderful production team has created a contemporary context for this version, set in a Sydney train station. In fact, the decor and sound design teams have outdone themselves, placing us right in the middle of a train station complete with a working (opening and closing) lift, opal card machine, and atmospheric soundscapes.

And so, with that context, there are ample opportunities to develop characters — even if those characterisations are non-verbal, less obvious, and understated.

The initial direction I was given about Joanne included a few things:

She is a business woman, on the way to work.

She buys in to John the Baptist, immediately and with enthusiasm.

She follows Jesus immediately, and with enthusiasm.

She volunteers for everything, jumping in head-first — almost before knowing what is going on.

She has a specific relationship with another character named Jacob which — through the course of the show — facilitates his inter-personal growth, and allows him to become more engaged with the community.

Things I’ve added:

She is earnest, and heart-felt, and loves participating.

She encourages others to participate. Sometimes this can be by physical coercion (pushing, pulling, grabbing hands, bringing them in), but it isn’t meant to be demanding.

Sometimes she can go a bit overboard. Sometimes she needs to rein it back in.

It’s been fun to develop a character who doesn’t really have her own explicit story. Everything becomes much more in-the-moment, much more reactive, much more… real. Sometimes we just show up in our lives without bringing the whole backstory.

Sometimes it’s just strangers on a train platform, figuring out what they’d like to bring to the interaction, and what they might hold back.

This morning, on the bus in to work, a school boy sat down in the seat next to me with a huge cardboard box.

The husband said: “What do you think he has in it? I bet it’s a puppy.”

I thought: Science project? 

The boy lifted the lid of the box, and up popped a brown and amber head with whiskers. It was a 19-year-old cat, a covert bus passenger. She barely made a noise when she opened her mouth to meow. She was lovely, and had beautiful eyes, and when the bus stopped to let more passengers on, she crawled over the edge of the box and up onto my backpack in my lap.

“I’m sorry,” the boy said, “Do you mind?”

“Not in the least.” I have a cat on my lap I didn’t expect to meet on my commute = a good Monday morning. Sometimes there’s not a backstory at all.

Sometimes, there’s just whatever response your heart can offer up.