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Stage Right spreads the gospel of music with 'Godspell'

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 8:43 p.m.
The 'Godspell' cast surrounds, 'Jesus', David Mahokey, (center), of Connellsville, during a rehearsal held at Stage Right! in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, February 20 2013, of the upcoming Stage Right! production of 'Godspell'. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review

It's not always the adults who are the teachers.

In Stage Right's production of the Broadway musical “Godspell,” director Anthony Marino says it's the youngest performers who spread the word of Jesus to the older doubters and nonbelievers.

The cast is a mix of adult professional actors and Stage Right graduates, a group of teens and current Stage Right students, pre-teens who serve as an angel chorus and children who are taught by Jesus (David Mahokey) and share his message with the others.

“Godspell” is based on the Gospel of Matthew and was first performed at Carnegie Mellon University, where a former student, John Michael Tebelak, had created it as his master's thesis. The show played at a small club in New York before it opened off-Broadway and moved to the Broadway stage, with a new musical score written by Stephen Schwartz.

It's a favorite musical of Marino, who first performed it in his 20s at Pittsburgh Musical Theater with director Ken Gargaro and has done it eight times since. The last time “Godspell” was produced at Stage Right was in 2001. The musical features the parables based on the Gospel and set to contemporary music.

“For this production, we had added some elements that make the message come to life,” Marino says. “Our Jesus, David Mahokey, is a cancer survivor who still wears a leg brace. We're using that within the story, of Jesus humbling himself and accepting what he is and who he is and giving us that lesson, weaknesses and all.”

Mahokey, a graduate of Point Park University who was the composer for Stage Right's adaptation of “Snow White” last season, says that playing Jesus in “Godspell” is a dream come true.

“I've never looked forward so much to a role,” he says.

Several of the actors on stage will be playing instruments in the show, according to Marino, including Mahokey, who plays guitar and sings. The score includes the popular song “Day by Day” and a cast favorite, “All Good Gifts.”

Other featured performers include Renata Marino, who also serves as choreographer; Joe Pedulla, Alyssa Zagorac, Vince Tresco, Rachael Tresco, Kiley Caughey, Greg Kerestan, Jeanne Kane and Dennis Jerz. Eric Barchiesi is the musical director.

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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