For 30 years, since its formation in 1981, the Theater Arts Ministry group of Hamden’s Spring Glen Church quietly produced a play – or two – each year, all which were greatly (but quietly) enjoyed by the group’s audiences. For its 30 th anniversary however, the group decided to raise the volume, with a no-holds-barred presentation of Stephen Schwartz’s ever-popular musical, “Godspell”, backed by a full live rock band. The show ran from April 7-9 2011, and proved to be a celebration of song, dance, great music and great theater. Initially there was one fly in the musical ointment, however – during the planning stages, the group did not have a keyboard player who could be available for all three of the musical’s performances.
Enter Chris Smith, who had been keyboardist with the rock band Jefferson Starship for the last 13 years. Chris has always been a fan of Godspell – but more significantly, he happens to be a Hamden native, and the son of the Theater Arts Ministry’s long-time director, Dick Smith. These days he lives on the West coast, which made it a little inconvenient to swing by the church for rehearsals. By a great stroke of luck, however, Jefferson Starship was playing a concert on April 3 rd 2011 in Foxboro, MA, and Chris enthusiastically volunteered to spend the following week in Hamden, rehearsing and ultimately performing for Godspell.
Even before Chris’s confirmed participation, there was growing excitement about the show. A musical retelling of much of the Gospel of Matthew, Godspell features many great songs by Stephen Schwartz (most recently famous for the score of “Wicked”), including the hit “Day by Day.” Since the show’s release in 1971, it has been a favorite production for theater groups both large and small, and is much loved by audiences everywhere. The Spring Glen Church production featured performers and participants of all ages, from teenagers right up to 80+. “There is an amazing energy in the cast right now – everyone is just so thrilled to be putting on this show,” said Nick Appleby, who played the role of Jesus. “It’s the kind of production where you have to just throw yourself in, you can’t hold anything back – and that’s what everyone is doing, and we’re really having fun with it.”
Performances of the Spring Glen Church Theater Arts Ministry’s production of Godspell were on Thursday April 7 th , Friday April 8 th , and Saturday April 9 th , 2011.