Stage Talk by Carol Viescas
‘Rabbit Hole’ — El Paso Community College Theater Ensemble presents Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning drama by David Lindsay-Abaire March 1-10 at Transmountain Campus Forum Theater, 9570 Gateway North, directed by Matthew Smith. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15 ($10 non-EPCC students and military; $7 EPCC students and staff and senior citizens). Ages 7 and older only admitted. Reservations: 831-5056.
The drama delves into the complexity of a family navigating deep grief and learning what it means to live a fruitful life when things fall apart.
‘Silent Sky’ — American Southwest Theatre Company presents true story of New England astronomer Henrietta Leavitt through March 3 at NMSU’s Center for the Arts in Las Cruces. Written by Laruen Gunderson and directed by Claudia Billings. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $17 ($14 seniors; $10 students; $5 high schools students with current I.D.) Tickets: (575) 646-41420 or nmsutheatre.com.
Leavitt leaves the comforts of her rural home for the Harvard Observatory. Her ambition leaves both her family and her new colleagues perplexed. But with a single discovery, their views of themselves, each other, and the universe itself will be upended for all time.
‘Godspell’ — Kids-N-Co. presents the musical based on the Gospel of Matthew March 8-24, at First Presbyterian Church, 1340 Murchison, conceived and originally directed by John Michael Tebelak, with book by Tebelak and music by Stephen Schwartz. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $7 ($5 children, students, seniors, military), available at the door. Information: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.
One-Act Play Festival — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Downtown Mall, Las Cruces, hosts its one-act showcase Friday through Sunday, March 15-17, featuring original works by area playwrights and directors. Plays and times to be announced. Admission is free; donations accepted. Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
‘Alice in Wonderland’ — No Strings Theater Company presents a version of Lewis Carroll’s classic, created by The Manhattan Project, March 22-April 7 at the Black Box Theater, 430 N. Main in Las Cruces. Direction by Karen Caroe. Tickets: $15 ($12 students and seniors over 65; $10 all seats Thursday). Information: (575) 523-1223 or no-strings.org.
‘Wait Until Dark’ — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, presents the Frederick Knott suspense thriller adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher March 22-April 7. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15 ($12 seniors 62+, students, military; $9 12 and younger). Information: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
Kids-N-Co. classes — Kids-N-Co. offers acting classes geared towards ages 5-15. Classes are 3:30 to 5 Saturdays, taught based on experience and level, not age group. Through the use of monologues, duet scenes, and group scenes, students work to build each other up to the next level based on their individual needs. Class dates for Session 3 are March 23-June 1. Tuition: $200. Information, location: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.
‘The Humans’ — The UTEP Department of Theater & Dance present the comedy by Stephen Karam 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 27-31, at UTEP’s Fox Studio Theatre. Directed by Kim McKean. Tickets: $14-$18. Information: 747-5118, theatredance.utep.edu or on Facebook.
One holiday. One dinner. One family. A boatload of secrets. As the Blake family celebrates Thanksgiving in a ramshackle duplex in Lower Manhattan, strange things begin to happen, laying bare their deepest fears and follies.
El Paso Nuevo Siglo Festival — The festival will offer a range of Spanish language plays Wednesday through Saturday, April 6-14, at the Chamizal National Memorial Theatre, 800 S. San Marcial. Schedule to be announced. Information: 532-7273, nps.gov/cham or nuevosiglo-elpaso.org.
Playhouse auditions — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, hosts auditions for “The Graduate” Sunday and Monday, April 14-15. Call for audition times: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
Pastor in role of Judas in Godspell
When First Presbyterian Church generously offered its facilities to a homeless Kids-N-Co. several years ago, Pastor Neil Locke had only one request – that someday KNC would do “Godspell.”
That someday has come this month as KNC alum and teacher, Rachel Robins, directs the show. And the pastor is taking part in the show – playing Judas.
“‘Godspell’ tells the story of Jesus and leads up to his crucifixion,” said Robins, a recent UTEP graduate with a BFA in Theatre Performance. “But the story isn’t about Jesus. ‘Godspell’ is about the lessons Jesus teaches and the community he cultivated. I believe that the main message of this story is love and to love the people and community you are with.”
Besides Locke, several adults and a number of KNC regulars are in the show, including 10-year-veteran Sidnee Coder, “who’s playing a blue-haired, ukulele-playing, flower-crown-wearing version of Jesus,” Robins said.
“Some (of the actors) have never worked with me before, and none of them have ever had me as a director. I take a lot of pride in the fact that my cast can take what I’m giving them as a base and build upon it until there’s a full-blown story. I’ve really loved getting to know this cast of people and getting to help them along this journey.”
Because most of the cast doesn’t have tons of experience, Robins chose to make it as simple as possible.
“We’re in a church? The location/set is the church! We’ve got strong personalities and people with vastly different styles of dress? Bam. You’re all yourselves and your costume is what you feel represents you. Since this show seeks to prove that a community can be created through whoever you choose, I thought it best to ground it very heavily in the current world and in each and every one of these actors.”
Robins should know, as she grew up in KNC, which helped develop her love of theatre – and her choice of college degree.
“I started at KNC when I was 10 because my parents could see how ridiculously extroverted I was/am, and how I really loved speaking in front of crowds. They got me into KNC, and by 15 I was performing at the El Paso Community College’s Forum Theatre, where I’ve since gotten to play roles like Diana Goodman in ‘Next to Normal.’ I was fortunate enough to also be cast at the UTEP Dinner Theatre as well as direct there (‘Tick, Tick, Boom’ as part of the student-led Side Dish productions) in December 2017.”
But even with the straightforward take on the show, it still has its challenges, Robins said.
“While the original music to ‘Godspell’ isn’t very difficult, we’ve chosen to do the 2012 rock revival, which heavily features the ensemble and is more technically challenging for the soloists,” she said. “It’s not easy music. Add on top of that that a lot of the younger kids in the show are not trained vocalists... It could’ve been a disaster. Luckily, I have Daniel Maciel (Montwood High School choir director and many-time performer at UDT) as my music director. Everyone sounds FANTASTIC. The harmonies are present and easily recognized, and no one is straining their voice.”
Robins added that even though they are doing the show for the Easter season, “I don’t think one would have to consider themselves religious to come see ‘Godspell.’ Yes, religion is there, but it’s only a vehicle that is used to get points across - much like how animals are used in fables. This show is funny and has a tremendous rock ’n’ roll score, not to mention the talented cast bringing it to life. This is a show about love and pride and community, and I think that it’s shaping up to be a lot of fun.”
Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.
Kids-N-Co. presents ‘Godspell’ March 8-24 at First Presbyterian Church, 1340 Murchison. Information: 274-8797.
Feature storyCopyright 2019 by Cristo Rey Communications.
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