Interview: 1/30-2/8: ‘Godspell’

Tatiana Hensley | The Arizona Republic | January 26, 2009

GodspellPlaying Jesus is Rolando Zee’s dream role, and he gets to do it in the hit Broadway musical Godspell, being staged by Mesa Encore Theater.

“I am very lucky,” Zee said. “I have only done a couple musicals. My background has been mostly in film and theater pieces.”

Zee is also part of Voice Studio Choir, which performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York City with other choirs on Martin Luther King Day.

“Musicals are an interesting balance of fun and hard work,” Zee said. “I love to see all the talent from the acting, singing and dancing coming together, and when it is on, it is so perfect.”

Godspell, which is based on the Gospel of Matthew, will feature comedy skits, improvisation, fast-paced song and dance, and beautiful ballads.

The musical will be directed by ariZoni Award-winner Mickey Bryce, who is also pastor at Centerstage Church in Mesa.

“Many pastors are actors, but not many actors are pastors,” Bryce said. “It has been my privilege to be both for a long time.”

Day By Day is probably Godspell’s best-known songs. This production also features a rendition of Beautiful City, dedicated to the victims of 9/11.

Zee said Bryce wanted the musical to be very real and very present so that people today could relate to each character, including Jesus.

“Although Jesus is omnipotent and knows everything about his disciples, he is also a regular person,” Zee said.

Pastor Bryce knows his subject, and can testify to the accuracy of the Gospel. “Godspell is one of the few authentic retellings of the Christian story found in theater,” Bryce said. “It tells it straight, right out of Matthew, without changing the characters or degrading the truth. Told in Jesus’ parables, it is a story of God becoming a man, living with men so that they might know how to relate to God and, finally, God himself giving his life for his children so sin’s penalty might be paid. And in the end, the harmony between God and man is restored.”

For actress Lizz Reeves, who is playing Peggy, Godspell is a musical about community.

Reeves, who sang for Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2005, said she has performed in Godspell with two other theater companies and is excited about performing for the third time.

“This musical is one of the few you can have with both entertainment and edification,” Reeves said.

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