Barrymore Award-Winner Matt Pfeiffer Reimagines Godspell with Gender-Blind Cast

Villanova’s production brings new meaning to the beloved biblical musical 

Barrymore Award-Winner Matt Pfeiffer Reimagines Godspell with Gender-Blind Cast

Villanova, PA – Villanova Theatre is proud to kick off the 2017-2018 season with the iconic musical Godspell, directed by Philadelphia favorite Matt Pfeiffer, who took home the Barrymore Award for Best Direction of a Play two years in a row.  Audiences will be “blessed indeed!” (Associated Press) by this beloved show by John-Michael Tebelak and Stephen Schwartz, which brings to life the Gospel According to Matthew through parables, song, and dance. Villanova’s production showcases a diverse cast of versatile performers – including two talented women in the roles of Jesus and John the Baptist/Judas.  Performances run September 19 - October 1, 2017.

Pfeiffer’s concept for this inventive and energetic Godspell arises from the idea of a group of performers coming together in an empty theatre to retell and rediscover this timeless story as vividly and immediately as possible.  First-year graduate acting scholar Mina Kawahara takes on the role of Jesus with second-year acting scholar Megan Slater as her counterpart in the role of John/Judas. This unusual, gender-blind casting choice highlights the universality of Jesus’s message of kindness, tolerance and love, and invites audiences to see and hear a familiar story with fresh eyes and ears.

Beyond its ability to entertain, Godspell allows collaborators and audiences alike to explore questions at the heart of Christianity and humanity through its playful, poetic parables. Director Matt Pfeiffer adds, “The piece has the capacity to transcend religious denomination, to engage in the ways in which stories have the power to uplift and inspire all walks of life. There is a corruption of the spirit right now, a corruption of human core beliefs that leads to conflict and ruin. If we can get at what makes this story human and universal, then I think we're getting somewhere.”

Pfeiffer’s Godspell lifts the musical out of its specific origins in the early 1970s to focus on the timeless value of community building. The production retains the revolutionary, transitional feeling of its original time period, as the cast builds a world that will speak to today’s audiences. In his work with classical texts, Pfeiffer’s goal has been “not to do a period piece or a museum piece, but rather to evoke the way in which the actors and the playwright approached the play. I've always felt Shakespeare's poetry allows for this approach, and I am interested in similar aesthetics on this project. Whenever I’m asked, ‘What are you going to do with this play?’ I always respond by saying, ‘I want to find out what it's going to do to me.’”

Godspell runs at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall from September 19th- October 1st, 2017. Speaker’s Night, immediately following the performance on Thursday, September 28th, will feature commentary from Villanova University Professor of Theology and Religious Studies Dr. Paul Danove. Vasey Hall is located on Villanova’s main campus at the intersection of Lancaster & Ithan Avenues. Performances will be held Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, MA in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 pm) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at www.villanovatheatre.org.