By Sarah Carlson, Staff Writer
While most students are studying or spending time with friends, Ryan Crowder is learning how to act like Jesus – literally.
Crowder, senior theatre major from Thornton, Colo., will portray Jesus in the upcoming ACU Theatre production of Godspell.
The musical will open April 15 and run for three weekends.
Godspell is based on the Gospel of Matthew, and a cast of 10 uses singing, dancing and improvisation to tell the story of Christ through his stories and parables.
In the original 1970s off-Broadway production, the actors dressed as clowns, but Crowder said the adaptation will present the ensemble as a group of players reminiscent of medieval times.
Lara Seibert, sophomore theatre major from Grapevine, is part of the ensemble and said the nine actors are a group of players who follow Jesus around and tell his story.
Crowder said Godspell is the type of show that encourages its actors to have fun, but that he is feeling the intimidation of taking on a role like Jesus.
“It’s demanding as an actor in a functional role,” Crowder said. “I am the leader of the disciples, and they feed off of my energy. It’s also a big thing to try and connect with someone who’s eternal.”
Crowder said he and his director, Adam Hester, chair of the Theatre Department, looked at Philip Yancy’s book The Jesus I Never Knew for insight into his role.
Seibert said that because of “skeleton-like” script, no two Godspell productions are ever alike and the story can go with any time period or style.
The original production ends with Jesus’ death, and Crowder said members debated to include the resurrection into the production.
“It was a debate because it’s not in the script, but then again we serve a risen Lord,” Crowder said. He said nothing formal will occur at the end, but more of a sense of a resurrection.
Seibert said the cast members have been reading through the parables used in Godspell together to prepare for their roles.
“We want to portray the human side of Jesus, the friendly, fun and personal side of him,” Seibert said.
Crowder said that through reading the Bible and looking at the parables, he hopes to bring out the message of the Gospels.
“The theme is of community and bringing a group of random people together, so when after [Jesus] leaves they will be ready to go out and continue his work,” Crowder said.
Crowder said rehearsals for the show are going well, and that he enjoys the storytelling and improvisation involved.
“It’s rare you get an opportunity to do something like this about your faith and something you are passionate about,” Crowder said. “It’s great to have a direct connection with faith.”