Ripley community theater brings ‘Godspell’ production

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

RIPLEY – Presented on a well-designed set to rival a professional production, the Ripley Arts Council and Dixie Theatre’s production of “Godspell” brings back a 1970s creation that in its time was referred to as a rock musical.
The show kicks off the first of five performances at 7 p.m. Feb. 19, with 7 p.m. performances also on Feb. 21, 22 and 23. A 2 p.m. matinee will be held on Feb. 24. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and for groups of 10 or more tickets are $5 each.
The title “Godspell” comes from an Old English word that means “good news,” and is the root of the word “gospel.” The play retells several parables from the Bible’s gospel of Matthew, with at least one that is only told in the book of Luke.
“As a pastor I love any time the good news of Christ is shared beyond the walls of the church,” said Jason Harms, pastor of Ripley First United Methodist Church, who plays Jesus.
Fourteen other cast members with Harms develop the scenes as envisioned by director Anne Cross and producers Tom Cockrell and Brittney Stroupe.
“This is a great show of the 1970s,” Cockrell said. “The story is 2000 years old, but the message is the same. It’s based on the gospel of Matthew, that’s what we’re getting across.”
The story is built around the Good News Choir, a group of girls age 6-12 from the Ripley community, who come, like the audience, to be taught the important stories of the Bible in a more captivating way.
The actors include Stephanie Jackson, Robbert Farrow, Shad Spight, Justice Richardson, Caitlyn Martin, Shelby Graves, Phil Wilson, Natalie Bullard, Will Siimpson, Christina Nunnally, Joyce Graddy, Cole Chapman and Harms, with musicians Shirley Taylor, Eddie Rucker and Paul Adams. All are on stage throughout the two-act production.
“We don’t have any costume or set changes, but we use a lot of props,” Cross said. “We have a wonderful cast and crew of volunteers, and we have gone all out on our set, costumes and lobby decorations. “Our show is appropriate for all ages and we urge everyone to attend. We especially encourage local church, youth and community groups to call about our group rates.”
Anne Cross contributed to this story.
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com