Little Theatre of Manchester (LTM) continues its 2017 season with the musical theatre phenomenon Godspell. Parables vibrantly come to life in the beloved family-friendly musical based on The Gospel According to St. Matthew. This meaningful performance exemplifies the character Jesus and his disciples as they create a community while teaching tolerance and kindness. Life’s lessons are intertwined with an eclectic blend of songs, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville. LTM will produce the 2012 revival version that features updated, contemporary references and dazzling new arrangements by the composer of Wicked and Pippin, Stephen Schwartz.
Godspell runs April 7-9, 14-15, and 21-23 at Cheney Hall, 177 Hartford Rd, Manchester. Friday and Saturday evening performances will be held at 8:00 pm and Sunday matinees will be at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $25-$29 with discounts available for both seniors and students. Manchester Community College students can receive a free general admission ticket with a valid student ID, and Greater Hartford Arts Council Let’s GO Arts! members are eligible for 2-for-1 tickets.
With the book by John Michael Tebelak and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical acts where Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them through song and dance. Conceived and originally directed by Tebelak, Godspell started as a college project performed by students at Carnegie Mellon and then moved to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in Greenwich Village. It was here that Godspell caught the attention of some Off-Broadway producers who recruited the up and coming Schwartz to write song and lyric for the show.
Now, years later, the LTM production of Godspell is directed by Michael Forgetta of Simsbury, whose experience is no stranger to the show or its subject matter. Forgetta attended St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield for four years before deciding not to pursue the priesthood.
One of Forgetta’s earlier memories of the show was when he found his eldest sister’s copy of the musical. “I remember falling in love with the music and just dancing around the living room to it.” Forgetta has also played the role of Judas at Cigna’s now defunct Act One and Jesus with The Windsor Jesters.
The role of Jesus in Little Theatre’s will feature the debut of an actor new to LTM’s stage. Pediatric dentist Andrew Rosenstein of West Hartford has most recently been seen doing stand-up comedy at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casinos and at the Broadway Comedy Club in New York City, but he believes those skills will transfer well to this new role. “There is a lot of improv in this show; the spontaneity of standup and being able to think on my feet will help.”
While Rosenstein has not been in a live musical since high school, he has plenty of experience acting, including a lead role in an independent short film titled “Suspicions.” He was also in an award-winning video named “Frank D. Kay-Professional Cavity” that he created while completing his Doctorate of Dental Medicine and Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry at the UConn School of Dental Medicine.
Currently practicing pediatric dentistry in West Hartford and North Windham, Rosenstein auditioned for the role after reading a story about the Little Theatre’s search for Jesus in local newspapers. “When Michael [Forgetta, director] called to offer the role, I accepted without a second thought. In these times, there couldn’t be a show more relevant. People are going to see that there are good people out there doing good things.”