Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Presents A Joyful, Celebratory ‘Godspell,’ July 13-31

The music and the message are the focus in this production of the Broadway hit by ‘Wicked’ composer Stephen Schwartz.

Accessible performance July 17 will feature Audio Description and Open Captioning for visually and hearing-impaired patrons.

Allentown, Pa. (June 27, 2011) – Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will present “Godspell,” Stephen Schwartz’s upbeat retelling of biblical parables, as the second Mainstage production of its 2011 season. Directed by Francis X. Kuhn, the show will run July 13-31 in the College’s Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance.

“‘Godspell’ is a celebration,” Kuhn says. “People should come to the theater ready to celebrate and enjoy themselves.”

Based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, “Godspell” is one of the biggest Off-Broadway and Broadway successes of all time. Featuring a beloved and sparkling score, in a variety of musical styles from pop and folk rock to gospel and vaudeville, “Godspell” boasts a string of familiar songs, led by the international hit “Day by Day.”

The show was conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, the Tony Award-nominated composer of “Pippin” (1972) and “Wicked” (2003). Drawing from various traditions such as clowning, pantomime and song-and-dance, “Godspell” is a groundbreaking and unique reflection on philosophy and faith—with a message of kindness, tolerance and love.

“The story is about the discovery of divine play within ourselves,” Kuhn says. “‘Godspell’ may be a story about Jesus but the play is really a celebration of what is divine in all of us and how we can all become better human beings.”

Kuhn last directed at Muhlenberg in the summer of 1979. He has directed plays, musicals, and operas for theater and opera companies throughout the country, and he is currently an associate professor of theater at The College at Brockport (SUNY) in western New York.

Muhlenberg senior Andrew Clark, who plays Jesus, says that he appreciates the chance to play a role like this because it is different from any other character he has played.

“I’m not really what you would picture when you picture Jesus,” Clark says. “Theater is a way to subvert the norm, and I think that is the essence of ‘Godspell.’ In the show Jesus acts as a storyteller, and we are learning about the stories for their moral values and not necessarily the religious aspects.”

To emphasize the stories, set designer Curtis Dretsch and Kuhn wanted to take the look of their “Godspell” in an unusual direction. Dretsch co-founded Summer Music Theatre 31 years ago and has designed more than 100 sets for Muhlenberg.

“‘Godspell’ is usually overlaid with a notion of specificity — for example street people or a circus setting,” says Dretsch. “For our production we wanted to create a flexible, malleable, obviously theatrical environment.”

Kuhn and Dretsch want the text and the music to be the main focus. The set is very flexible and designed primarily to respond to light. Changes in atmosphere is accomplished through lighting changes.

“This is a much more straightforward, presentational version of the show,” says Dretsch. “The set is there to support, nurture, and present the play.”

The set and lighting also provide a showcase for the choreography by alumnus Will Porter, returning to Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre for the first time since graduating in 2008. Porter will be headed to Tokyo in August as part of the national tour of “A Chorus Line.”

“Returning to Muhlenberg is a blessing,” says Porter. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Porter and Kuhn want to give the show a contemporary look and feel liberated from its 1970s roots and specifically Christian context.

“Personally, I am Buddhist,” Porter says, “But I find many parallels among religions in the songs and stories in ‘Godspell,’ and I am using that as a jumping off point for the choreography.”

The Sunday, July 17, performance at 2 p.m. will feature Open Captioning (OC) for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing and Audio Description (AD) for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. Open captioning provides the audience with an unobtrusive electronic text display to the side of the stage, displaying lyrics and dialogue in real time. Audio Description is a form of audio-visual translation, using natural pauses to insert narrative that translates the visual image into an audible form. Patrons use headsets to hear the audio description. This performance is sponsored in part by the Tri-County Accessible Arts Coalition.

“We are excited to bring the first audio described and open captioned performance to the Lehigh Valley community,” says Jess Bien, general manager of Muhlenberg’s Theatre and Dance Department. “By offering these types of performances, we are hoping to provide a whole new audience with the opportunity to experience live theater and some of America’s greatest musicals.”

To purchase audio described and open captioned tickets for the July 17 performance only, please call Jess Bien at 484-664-3087 or email boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu.

“Godspell” runs July 13–31, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Performances are in the Dorothy Hess Baker Theatre, in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Tickets for July 13-16 are $32; seniors age 65 and up, $28; students and children, $18. Tickets for July 17-31 are $38; seniors, $35; students and children, $20.

Sundays are Family Matinee day; tickets for children ages 5-18 are just $10 when purchased with a full-price or senior ticket. (Limit two discounted tickets per full-price ticket.) Discounts are available for subscriptions to “The Music Man” and “Godspell” and for groups of 15 or more. More information online.

Also featured in MSMT’s 31st season: “Cinderella,” a movement-theater production for families, June 22 – July 30.

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre performance information and tickets are available at 484-664-3333 or www.muhlenberg.edu/SummerMusicTheatre

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre – Accessible Performance Of “Godspell”

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre

to present accessible performance of

Godspell

 

July 17 performance of “Godspell” at Muhlenberg

will feature Open Captioning and Audio Description

for hearing impaired and visually impaired patrons


Allentown, Pa. (June 13, 2011) – Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will present a performance of “Godspell” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 17 with Open Captioning (OC) for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing and Audio Description (AD) for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. This performance is sponsored in part by the Tri-County Accessible Arts Coalition.

“The Tri-County Accessible Arts Coalition is working to accomplish several goals,” says Jessica Bien, general manager of Muhlenberg’s Theatre and Dance Department. “The first is to educate local organizations about the need for accessible performances and events in the region. The second is to educate the communities that the accessible performances will serve. Since many individuals have not ever experienced an open captioned or audio described performance, they need to understand what the performance will be like. Finally the Coalition is hoping to be able to secure the necessary equipment for these services so that any organization in the area may borrow the equipment to offer audio description or open captioning.”

Prior to the performance, there will be a tour and reception for audience members utilizing the services. The performance will be held in the Baker Theatre in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance on the Muhlenberg College campus in Allentown, Pa.

“We are hoping that this performance provides the chance for other theaters and organizations in the Lehigh Valley to experience audio description and open captioning so that they can begin to offer these types of performances as well,” Bien says.

“Godspell,” Stephen Schwartz’s upbeat retelling of biblical parables, is one of Broadway’s biggest successes, featuring a beloved and sparkling score—including the international hit “Day By Day.” The show will run July 13-31.

“We are excited to bring the first audio described and open captioned performance to the Lehigh Valley community,” says Bien. “By offering these types of performances, we are hoping to provide a whole new audience with the opportunity to experience live theatre and some of America’s greatest musicals.”

Audio Description is a form of audio-visual translation, using the natural pauses in dialogue or between critical sound elements to insert narrative that translates the visual image into an audible form that is accessible to individuals who otherwise lack full access to live theatre. Using a single earpiece connected to an infrared headset, patrons who are blind or have low vision can listen to trained audio describers give live, verbal descriptions of actions, costumes, scenery, and other visual elements of a performance.

Open captioning provides the audience with an electronic text display to the side of the stage which displays what the actors are saying or singing in real time. The display also describes sound effects on stage.

To purchase tickets for the July 17 performance of “Godspell,” call Jess Bien at 484-664-3087 or email boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu. The number of headsets available for Audio Description is limited so it is suggested that reservations be made early. Tickets are only $10 for hearing impaired and visually impaired patrons and one companion can also purchase a ticket for $10.

Each year, Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre mounts major original productions of Broadway musicals featuring the work of accomplished directors, designers, performers and musicians. Tickets are still available for all three Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre shows – “The Music Man,” running June 15 – July 3; “Cinderella,” our children’s theatre show, running June 22 – July 30; and “Godspell.”

Tickets for regular performances can be purchased online at muhlenberg.edu/tickets, by calling 484-664-3333, or by visiting the box office located on the lower level of the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information contact Scott Snyder, at 484-664-3693 or scottsnyder@muhlenberg.edu.

 

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre

Auditions for MSMT 2011 season—’The Music Man,’
Godspell,’—will be held Feb. 27 and 28.

Children’s auditions for ‘Music Man’ scheduled for March 1-2

Technical positions and high school internships also available.


Allentown, Pa. (Feb. 10, 2011) — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will hold open auditions for adult performers on Feb. 27 and 28, and for children ages 6 to 13 on March 1 and 2. Performers will be cast for both of the season’s mainstage productions: Meredith Willson‘s “The Music Man,” June 15 – July 3, and Stephen Schwartz’s “Godspell,” July 13-31.

The following audition details can also be found online, at www.summerbroadway.org.

Vocal auditions for adults (ages 16 and up) will be held Sunday, Feb. 27, from 2 to 7 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 11 p.m. Auditions will be held in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, on the Muhlenberg College campus. Vocal audition appointments are three minutes.

Dance auditions for adults only will be held Sunday, Feb. 27, from 12 to 2 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Dance Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance. Dance auditions will take about half an hour. Auditioners will be taught a short dance sequence, which they will then perform. No preparation is required.

Children ages 6 to 13 will be cast for the ensemble of “The Music Man” in a special audition, Tuesday, March 1, and Wednesday March 2, from 5 to 7 p.m, in the rehearsal hall in the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance. There is no dance audition for children. Children must be under five feet tall in order to audition. Auditions are in three-minute appointments.

All auditioners must register in advance and schedule an audition. Auditioners should send an e-mail to boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu before Friday, Feb. 25, indicating available dates and times within the scheduled audition, and providing a mobile phone number where the auditioner can be reached with questions.

Those without access to e-mail should call the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance office at 484-664-3087, during regular office hours before Thursday, Feb. 24. Voice messages should contain all of the above information.

All adult auditioners will be assigned a time for both a dance audition and a vocal audition, and should plan to dance and sing, even if they concentrate in just one area. It is possible for a performer to be cast based on a strong audition in just singing or just dance.
Auditioners for both shows—including children ages 6 to 13—should prepare a memorized vocal selection of 16 to 32 bars. Adults should sing something from a classical Broadway show other than “The Music Man,” from about 1980 or earlier. Women should not use a belt voice or mix; men interested in the role of Marcellus may belt.

In the children’s audition, girls should sing a ballad in the style of “The Music Man”; no belting, please. Boys should prepare an up-tempo number, also in the style of the show; belt voice is okay.

The musical directors request that you do not sing from the “The Music Man” or “Godspell” scores. An accompanist will be provided for the vocal audition. You must bring sheet music in the key in which you would like to sing, with your 16- to 32-bar selection indicated and any cuts clearly noted.  Please no accompaniment tapes.

The directors are looking for a wide range of ages and types for each production, and community members are strongly encouraged to audition.

Callback auditions will be held March 17-21, and will include acting auditions, reading from the script. Details will be provided as necessary, but auditioners should hold the dates if possible.
Non-performing opportunities are available for technicians and costumers. Carpenters, electricians, props technicians, light board and sound board operators, and stage crew are needed for productions. Costumers, first hand, stitchers, and wardrobe running crew are needed in the costume shop.

High school stage management internships are available for those who will be at least 16 years old by the time they begin working for MSMT. Interns work alongside college students and professionals from the College, and guest artists from New York, learning valuable skills that they can take back to their high school programs. Interns receive a $400 stipend for the summer.

The application deadline for technicians, costumers, and administrative personnel is March 1. Applications can be found online at www.summerbroadway.org. Completed applications can be sent to boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu.