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Charleston Light Opera Guild Celebrates Summer Youth Program With "Godspell"

Reported: Feb. 6, 2014 12:46 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 6, 2014 1:48 PM EST

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kennie Bass) -- Telling the story of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew, "Godspell" has been a staple on stage since it was first produced on Broadway in 1971.

Three years later, it debuted in the capital city with a cast full of young adults. That show became the model for the Charleston Light Opera Guild's summer youth program, which is still going strong 40 years later.

" "Godspel" is a conceptualized telling of the parables of the Book of Matthew," said Cameron Vance, who plays Jesus. "So, Jesus' role in the show is really his role in the Bible. He's the teacher of his followers, so he's just trying to spread his message of love and acceptance and community."

Included in that original cast was a young Cross Lanes performer who went on to country music stardom. Grammy award winner Kathy Mattea was a part of the original 1974 production and the Guild's staging of the show a year later.

Mattea is attending Friday's premiere performance. She will speak before the show and be honored along with other original cast members in a post-curtain reception.

"This Friday the 7th is a special performance featuring a speaking by Kathy Mattea before the show," Vance said.

This version of "Godspell" features updated music, but its performers said the message of love and tolerance remains the same.

"The message of the show is really wholesome and it can be received by almost anyone who comes to see it, religious or not," Carly Thaw, who is in the ensemble, said. "And it just teaches about morals and being a good person through jokes, through songs and through dancing, through energy and fun. And I think that's really special."

The Charleston Light Opera Guild Presents "Godspell"
The Charleston Light Opera Guild Theater
411 Tennessee Ave. at the corner of Roane Street
Feb. 7, 8, 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9, 16 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for all performances except opening night.
Tickets for the Feb. 7 show are $50 for the performance and a post-curtain reception.

To celebrate its 65th anniversary and to honor 40 years of Youth Theater, the Charleston Light Opera Guild will present a special performance of "Godspell" on Friday, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Guild Theater, followed by a reception with the Guild's special guest, Grammy award-winner Kathy Mattea. The Cross Lanes native was a cast member of the Guild's original production of "Godspell". Tickets for this special event will be $50 through the Guild box office.

The Guild previously produced "Godspell" in 1975 and 1994. This production will be the revised 2012 version, incorporating some of the changes and updated references used in the 2011-12 Broadway production.

Jesus - James Cameron Vance II
Judas/John the Baptist - Stephen Hayward

Steve Brannon
Cassia Marie King
Katlin Kouns
Lauren Meyer
Lily Odekirk
Katie Shaver
Carl David Simpkins II
Clayton Andrew Strohmenger
Carly Thaw
Austin Alexander Thomas

Director – Nina Denton Pasinetti
Musical Director – Bobby Hodges Jr.
Accompanist - Mary Ellen Logsdon
Technical Director – Thomas Pasinetti
Guild Board President - Tim Whitener

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