With the help of prayer, stories, dancing and songs, Dominicans students preached the good news of the 2019 Spring Musical, Godspell, presented in April in the Sister Ambrose Reggio Gym. The production, directed by Mr. Patrick Cragin, showcased a cast of students portraying Jesus Christ and his disciples.
Godspell follows the story of Jesus, portrayed by senior Zoe Ashley, and his interactions with the disciples. Together, they tell parables using songs and dance. The musical then journeys to the Last Supper and eventually the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For first-time director Mr. Cragin, directing wasn’t something he wanted to do until recently. He is an actor and has appeared in shows like Law and Order: SVU, Switched at Birth, as well as productions of Hairspray!, Grease and West Side Story. He was in a production of Newsies at the La Mirada Theater in California, and his director for the show inspired him to direct. He chose Godspell for his directorial debut because he wanted to get to know his cast. “I thought Godspell was the perfect show for that since everyone is on stage all the time,” said Mr. Cragin.
The cast consisted of girls and boys that come from different backgrounds and experiences. As a senior, Ashley auditioned in her last Dominican year because she has always loved musical theater and performing. She even took some years off from performing to study musical theater with camps at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and Oxbridge Academic programs in New York. “I genuinely love performing,” said Ashley. “It felt very surreal to get the lead role.”
Freshman Mia DiGiovanni also auditioned because music (musical theater in particular) is her passion. Being in musicals has also helped her improve her dancing, singing and acting skills. The theater has also taught her many skills like how to lead, how to manage time and how to work with others. “There’s just something enchanting about it that draws you in,” said DiGiovanni. “Being able to make the audience feel genuine emotions from your performances is a crazy feeling.”
The cast auditioned in mid-January and worked non-stop since then to prepare for the show. According to Mrs. Kara Munns, faculty moderator, they practiced six days a week, three to four hours on weekdays and seven to eight hours on Saturdays. Finally, all their hard work paid off when the show was ready to open.
The cast worked together to put on a successful show and came together to close out the performances. “I’m most proud of the students for really committing and creating a community for each other,” said Mr. Cragin. “It was rewarding to watch everyone step up past what we thought we could do and create something that moved the audience.”
Ashley also loved the community that the cast created. “The whole premise of the show is Jesus forming a community, and we did, too,” said Ashley. Similarly, DiGiovanni loved the experience because “I love getting to do something I love with people who are equally as passionate as I am.”
The relationship between the cast and the crew is essential to the performance. The crew acts as the secret force of behind-the-scenes workers. “To do their job well, they have to be invisible,” said Ms. Angelle Caffery, scenery and stage crew director. The crew not only transforms the stage; they also run the show. They are in charge of making sure the cast has proper costumes, the proper sets, and a prepared stage. The crew also designs and runs the lights for the show. “The cast relies on the crew,” said Ms. Caffery. “There can’t be a cast without a crew.”
Another unique star of the Dominican musical is the live orchestra. The orchestra, directed by Ms. Brenda Castillo, musical director, is composed of Dominican students and plays the songs live in the show, rather than using a recording.
All of these aspects —cast, crew, orchestra and directors— create a community in the Dominican arts program and help to create a beautiful show, capable of captivating and moving the audience.
- Grace DiFranco