‘Godspell’ Grabs the Jakarta Players’ Spotlight
Gathered at the top level of Fez bar in Kemang, a multinational group of passionate performers went through their final rehearsal. After 12 weeks of preparation, the cast of 10 actors from the Jakarta Players were putting the final touches on their stage version of “Godspell” ahead of performances this weekend.
“Godspell” was first made famous on Broadway and now, 42 years on, it has sparked countless revival productions all over the world. The Jakarta Players adaptation of the musical, written by Stephen Schwartz and based on a book by John-Michael Tebelak, will be directed by Keith Allerton.
The Jakarta Players was founded almost 45 years ago and has been performing world-class plays ever since. The group has taken on plays including “12 Angry Men,” “The Government Inspector” and “Veronica’s Room,” as well as several musicals.
The Jakarta Players used to produce four or five shows a year but has cut back to three to adjust to the city’s crowded entertainment agenda.
The group has already offered a version of “Godspell” in 2007, but last October made the decision to redo it. The piece was chosen again because Allerton was looking for a show that requires a small cast, yet features amazing music.
Allerton said that although the Jakarta Players in December produced a show with a religious theme, “Beggar’s Belief,” “Godspell” is a story that will appeal to everybody.
“The music is timeless and it’s a great story for all ages,” he said.
“Godspell” tells the story of people from all walks of life who come together and learn to live in harmony and respect each other. It contains dramatized versions of well-known parables and even though it is hugely based on stories from the Bible, Allerton said the story is written for non-believers to enjoy as well.
After performing in the theater group’s 2007 version, Allerton has now taken on the role of director. The group stays true to the Broadway version, he said, while eliminating some parts to keep the show neat. He wanted the show to feature people in everyday life as characters.
“Godspell,” which will be presented at Jakarta’s Music Republican Theater, features 15 songs, including the hit “Day by Day,” and will run for two hours.
Micha Pardede returns to the cast as Jesus. Micha, who graduated with a degree in English from Atma Jaya University, said he liked the script because it transcended religion.
“ ‘Godspell’ is less about religion and more about community development,” he said. “It’s just like having the Prophet Isa in Islam.”
On playing Jesus, Micha said there was no pressure because the portrayal of Jesus in the play is a lot more relaxed than Jesus in Christmas stories.
In one of the scenes, Micha will be wearing a pair of jeans and a New York Yankees jersey, which is far from the usual portrayal of Jesus, with long hair and long robes. He sings two solos and is engaged in a lot of dialogue.
“You see me, and this alternative lifestyle that I lead,” Micha said pointing to tattoos that cover both arms. “The Jesus in this play is less dogmatic than a lot of people may think.”
Other than Micha, “Godspell” features American, Dutch, British and Indonesian talents in the cast. All dances are choreographed by Lynda Halabi.
Make up artist Ulfa Rebecca said she wanted this take on “Godspell” to look different to the Broadway version.
“The characters in Jakarta’s ‘Godspell’ will be less colorful, as each of them will be displaying a certain profession, instead of just being peasants in different costumes,” she said.
Allerton promises a spectacular and memorable show. “There are a lot of tender moments in it, and I got chills while directing the show,” he said. “I’m curious as to what audiences will feel when they see it this weekend.”
Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Music Republican Theater,
Jl. Fatmawati No. 8,
Pondok Labu, South Jakarta
Tickets Rp 150 000 (adults) and Rp 100 000 (students)
For tickets, phone 0812 801 56076 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org