NEW ULM - Cathedral High School's production next weekend of "He Lived The Good Life," the story of Jesus' life set to music, will offer a bit of a twist from previous productions as songs almost entirely weave the story of Jesus' life and death.
"It's really a play that I've had tucked in the back of my mind for many years. I first saw [the musical] when it was performed in the mid-1970s. I was in junior high school actually when I saw it, and it really affected me deeply," Director Anita Shikoski explained.
"So, when visiting with Marijo Sweeney, our vocal and instrumental director, about choosing a show that would showcase the kids that we anticipated auditioning or that we kind of knew would be auditioning, this just seemed like a good fit for us," Shikoski said.
Cast members sing and dance during a recent rehearsal of “He Lived the Good Life.'
A wedding scene from the play
Ross Grathwohl, Joey Verschaetse, Derek Helget (behind Verschaetse), Peter Braegelmann and Nick Wellmann
A chorus sings about Jesus’ birth during the opening scene of the play.
"There are a number of opportunities for solos and for small groups, singing that just can really showcase their talent well, and, of course, it is a perfect choice for our school as it is the life of Jesus Christ from birth through resurrection," she continued.
"Limited set, representation, also incorporates a PowerPoint presentation. I think it's kind of a nice addition to the show, to flash these images on a screen while cast members sing the song," she noted.
"We really see the endearing, human side of Jesus."
He Lived the Good Life cast:
Alex Cooper, plays the adult Jesus
Val Lux, plays Mary
Holy Trinity Middle School 6th grader E.J. Berda, portrays young Jesus and HTMS 5th grader Cole Wellmann, portrays Jesus' childhood friend
If You Go...
What: Cathedral High School play " He Lived the Good Life"
When: Thursday, Nov. 12; Friday, Nov. 13; Saturday, Nov. 14; at 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m.
Where: Holy Trinity Middle School Auditorium
Ticket Cost: Adults $7, students K-12 $4 and Pre-K $2
This is the second time that Cathedral High School will have put on this particular musical as the school was one of the first venues in 1974-75 for Minnesota composer Richard Wilson's musical which he wrote in the early 1970s, Sweeney said.
Another "connection" with the 1974 performance comes out of this show's cast. Shikoski reports that the father of Megan Henle from this year's cast was a member of that original cast that presented the play 35 years ago.
According to Sweeney, the cast really has embraced the almost all singing format for the play.
"It's almost all singing. The story is told through songs, and the songs are all different forms of pop music. You have a little bit with a heavy rock beat; you have some closer to jazz. There's one that is kind of like a hymn, and there are some that are like ballads. They all tell stories, but there are some that move more like a ballad," Sweeney said.
"There's one that sounds like country, and so they're all of the more popular styles of music, pretty much. [Nothing] modernizes the concept of Jesus' life as telling it in a way that kids can understand," she noted.
"We do have parts of the show [in which] the students are dressed biblically and in parts of the show they're dressed in contemporary clothing depending upon which part of the story we are in," she continued.
"Sometimes, they're like story tellers, telling the story from the kids' point of view from today, and sometimes they are an actual character, acting out part of the story from the original biblical times, [telling the story] through music," Sweeney noted.
"It doesn't get too far out there. Most of it is pretty gentle, nothing like wild and crazy rock music. It's more a light rock, and it is sung very reverently. It's not done in a crazy way."
Ron Larsen can be reached at email@example.com