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“Godspell” is next offering by Cedar Summerstock; opens Thursday

The classic musical, “Godspell” opens Thursday, July 1, at an unusual site chosen by the Cedar Summerstock Theater: the Duenow Quarry near St. Ansgar.

Due to concerns with Covid, the early shows of the CST season were scheduled to be held in outdoor venues.  “Seussical,” the first show of the season, was also held outdoors.

Cast of “Godspell,” which opens July 1 in an unusual venue – a quarry near St. Ansgar. Clockwise from bottom left, Alexa Lowery, Emma Gostonczik, Pearl Prentice, William Dusek, Lauren Johnson, Adrian Machado, Alicia Pedraza, Bobby Guenther, Tommy Krob and Cam Burchard; middle, from left, Kelcy Taylor, Christian Sandelin (standing) and Sarah Simmons. Photo courtesy of Deb Nicklay.

Despite those concerns, the rugged set has proved to be “stunning,” said Nancy Lee, who directs the musical. Lee is also the founder and artistic director of the CST.

The story, based on the Gospel of St. Matthew, follows the life of Jesus and his use of parables to engage and inspire his disciples to put his lessons into active practice, Lee said. The simplicity of the quarry provides an ideal setting for the show; the show is framed to ask how you would react “if Jesus showed up in little Mitchell County at a local swimming hole?” Lee said. “And that guy – that guy everyone thought was the ‘weird guy’ – was John the Baptist? It has an organic, human context.”

The show’s characters all have different perspectives, questions and responses to Jesus and his teachings.

“It is an amazing show,” said Sarah Simmons, an actor from Portsmouth, Ohio. “It shows us how important community is as well as how important it is to support each other; (the young people) in the show are feeling lost and Jesus is a light they can go to in times of trouble and need.”

Chris Sandelin, 21, an actor who attends Belmont University in Nashville, plays Jesus in the production. He said audience members will be able to take away different messages from the show.

“The story is told in a fun and creative way that can still be an impactful experience to watch,” he said.
Although “Godspell” marks its 50th birthday this year, its presentation continues to be celebrated through many productions. Broadway revived the show in 2011. The well-known song, “Day by Day” became a pop hit in 1971.

Cedar Summerstock Theater, established in 2017, has proven to be a unique and popular musical theater whose troupe is made up of the finest college-aged actors and technical crew from across the U.S. The rehearsal space for the company is located at South Square in St. Ansgar; the normal performance venue is the Cedar River Complex’s Krapek Family Fine Arts Center. The last two shows of the 2021 season – “Addams Family,” and “Regarding Broadway” will be held at the CRC.

Godspell performances: July 1, 2, 3, 4, 8,9,10, 7 p.m., July 11, 2 p.m. Rain dates are July 5 and July 12. A fireworks show follows the July 4th show.

How to get there: The quarry is located at 4439 Indigo Ave., St. Ansgar. From Osage: Go north on Highway 218; keep traveling west after you have passed the Stacyville turn-off and then turn right (north) on Indigo Avenue. Travel north about 2 miles; the quarry will be on your left. Signs will be posted.

Handicapped accessibility: Parking accommodations will be made for those who cannot negotiate the short walk from their cars to the quarry. There will also be golf cart rides available to the quarry for those who may not want to walk.

Lawn chairs: Please bring a lawn chair!

Tickets: Go to: www.cedarsummerstock.org.