Godspell-Featuring American Idol Finalist Anwar Robinson

Book by John Michael Tebelak
Lyrics & Music by Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj
Musical Director/Composer: Charles Creath
Choreographer: Anthony Salatino

ARCHBOLD THEATRE at SYRACUSE STAGE
Previews: November 25-28
Open: November 29
Close: December 28

(Syracuse, NY)-This groundbreaking, energetic musical based on the Gospel of St. Matthew is a celebration of worldwide community, filled with popular hit songs and irresistible goodwill. Continuing a holiday tradition at Stage, Godspell is presented by both Syracuse Stage and the Department of Drama in The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. American Idol Finalist Anwar Robinson joins the ensemble cast of 10, which features Broadway veterans and six of the Department of Drama’s finest students. Godspell will run November 25-December 28. Tickets are available in person at 820 East Genesee Street, by phone at 315-443-3275 or by visiting the web at http://www.SyracuseStage.org.

Godspell is one of the biggest off-Broadway and Broadway successes of all time-the recipient of a 1972 Grammy Award for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album, and a 1977 Tony nomination for Best Original Score. Popular tunes like the international hit “Day by Day,” “Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord,” “All Good Gifts,” “Turn Back, O Man” and “By My Side” share parables about the life of Jesus, with messages of kindness, tolerance and love.

Director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, making his debut at Stage, started his work on Godspell by asking the question, “Where would we find Jesus today?” Maharaj concluded that Jesus would be in the places where people most need help. Stage’s version of Godspell will begin at the United Nations and then travel to Cuba, Haiti, South Africa, Sudan, China, India, Iraq and New Orleans.

“Godspell is about a human being on a spiritual quest to places around the world that he never thought he would travel, meeting people of rich cultures and traditions that would galvanize him to live a life of peace, love, and happiness,” said Maharaj. “This universal theme is one that we can all relate to no matter what our individual faith or religious traditions. Godspell reminds us all that we are more alike than different, that we are all connected to one another, that we all need one another, and that all of our lives and stories have great value.”

Highlighting the production will be world-dance choreography by Anthony Salatino, a graduate of The Julliard School and Associate Professor in the Department of Drama at Syracuse University. Music by Charles Creath will inform the migration from one country to the next, and Scenic Design by Adam Koch will provide a towering vista where characters come together in a singular future of hope.

The ensemble cast reflects the youth, energy and global perspective of the show, comprised of four Equity actors and six students from the Department of Drama.

In the role of Jesus is Anwar Robinson – Top Ten Finalist in the fourth season of American Idol, Recording Artist, Broadway and Film Actor. Often compared to his musical idol Stevie Wonder, Robinson has recorded and performed with Clive Davis, Patti LaBelle, Kelly Price and Donnie McClurkin. In 2005, he was the seventh place finalist on the fourth season of American Idol. In 2007, Robinson took on the role of “Collins” in the 2007-2008 National/International Tour of Jonathan Larson’s iconic rock opera, RENT. Robinson’s first feature film Friends & Lovers: Ski Trip 2 will be released later this year, and he is currently working on his debut solo album The Truth About Love.

Other members of the Equity ensemble are Brandi Chavonne Massey, whose credits stretch from London’s West End to Broadway in such roles as Nala in The Lion King, Nettie in The Color Purple and Elpheba in Wicked. Jasmin Walker has logged time on Broadway having performed in the long-running Avenue Q. Timothy Ware completes the Equity cast, and his credits include Broadway and national tours in such shows as Mama Mia and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Students in the production include Michael Howell, a senior Musical Theatre major who appeared in Stage’s Fiddler on the Roof as Motel the Tailor and SU Drama’s Lucky Stiff as Harry Witherspoon. Senior Musical Theatre major Nadine Malouf appeared in SU Drama’s Steel Pier as Rita Racine, and as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Lauren Nolan, a senior Musical Theatre major, appeared in SU Drama’s Steel Pier as Precious McGuire and as Amy in Little Women. Senior Acting major Tinuke Oyefule recently appeared at The Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company as Delia Jones in Sweat. Frankie Paparone is a senior Musical Theatre major who appeared in SU Drama’s Steel Pier as Don Misiano, and as Headband Boy in A Chorus Line at Geva Theatre Center. Senior Musical Theatre major Brendon Stimson has appeared in the SU Drama productions of Steel Pier as Bill Kelly and as Anthony in Sweeney Todd.
HISTORY
Godspell opened at the Cherry Lane Theatre on May 17, 1971 and was an immediate hit with audiences. Because the Cherry Lane was too small for the crowd, the production moved uptown to the Promenade Theatre where it played 2,124 performances until it moved to Broadway in 1976. Godspell then played for an additional 527 performances on Broadway.

ARTISTIC

Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj (Director) is the Associate Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage. His regional directing credits include: Freedom Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, St. Louis Black Rep, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Prince Musical Theatre, Theatre of the Stars, The Goodman Theatre and Alliance Theatre. His New York City credits include: the Public Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Lark Play Development Center, New Federal Theatre, Second Stage, Rebel Theatre, Making Books Sing, and Here. He has held artistic residencies with The Public Theatre, Freedom Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Kennedy Center, Crossroads Theatre, Lark Play Development Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and Amas Musical Theatre. Written work: Little Rock, Mississippi Night, Diss Diss & Diss Dat, Twenty-Five, Gray, Children of the Dream and BlackfootNotes. He is a founding member and the Producing Artistic Director of Rebel Theatre, and recipient of several prestigious grants and awards including National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Career Development Program for Directors TCG New Generations Grant in partnership with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council Grant, Puffin Foundation, Time Warner Diverse Voices Fund, and the Van Lier Directing Fellowship. He is also the recipient of the Woodie King Jr. Award for Outstanding Direction and four Vivian Robinson AUDELCO awards for his direction and choreography. He was the Assistant to the Director on the Tony Award Winning Broadway revival A Raisin in the Sun, and has been featured in American Theatre Magazine, Yale Review, New York Times, The NAACP Crisis News, Chicago Sun Times, Ebony, Arkansas Times, Uptown Magazine, Amsterdam News and Variety for his work in the American theatre.

Charles Creath (Musical Director/Composer) got his start in theatre with a first-run production of Don’t Bother Me…I Can’t Cope. Later, in California, he worked with Motown as a Staff Writer/Producer and had a long affiliation with the West Angeles Church of God in Christ as organist and later as Youth Director. Upon his return to St. Louis he began touring nationally and in South America with numerous theatrical productions as Musical Director. For some time he was a fixture as a pianist on the old Goldenrod Showboat moored at the foot of the Arch (St. Louis). He has toured throughout Europe as the Musical Supervisor of the Golden Gospel Singers and as a Workshop Clinician with the Gospel Connection. Now, in St. Louis, Charles is the Resident Musical Director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company and Minister of Music for the St. Peter African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Anthony Salatino (Choreographer & Fight Choreographer) recently choreographed the New York City Opera premiere of Margaret Garner, music by Richard Danielpour, libretto by Toni Morrison (based on her novel Beloved) and directed by Tazewell Thompson. A graduate of The Juilliard School, he has choreographed for many opera and dance companies throughout the United States. Last season at Syracuse Stage he directed Fiddler on the Roof. Previously at Syracuse Stage, he choreographed Christmas Carol; directed and choreographed The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Peter Pan; and choreographed The Wizard of Oz, Big River and My Fair Lady. An associate professor in Syracuse University’s Department of Drama, Tony conceived, directed and choreographed three original productions: Bravo Piaf!, The Table (Der Tisch) and The Clowns. He has performed with dance companies throughout the United States and Europe, and performed with the (New York) City Center Company at the White House.

DESIGNERS

Adam Koch (Scenic Design). Recent regional: premiere of the new musical Rooms (Metrostage and Geva Theatre Center, directed by Scott Schwartz), the Chicago premiere of The Million Dollar Quartet (Goodman Theatre, directed by Eric Schaeffer), Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Signature Theatre), the 30th anniversary production of The Colored Museum (Crossroads Theatre Company, directed by Rajendra R. Maharaj), the New York Musical Theatre Festival’s premiere of Bonnie & Clyde, A Tuna Christmas (Human Race Theatre Company), Tick, Tick, Boom! (Metrostage), Little Shop of Horrors (Paper Mill Playhouse), Frozen, Brooklyn Boy, The Sound of Music.

Josh Bradford (Lighting Designer) lives, and primarily works, in New York City. His recent designs include The Fourposter and The Dining Room for Keen Company, The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion for Urban Stages, The Children of Vonderly and for Ma-Yi, Everything’s Turning into Beautiful for The New Group, Birth and After Birth for The Atlantic, and History of the Word for The Vineyard. Regional credits include the Asolo, the Long Wharf, Merrimack Rep, Crossroads, the Raue Center, and the Emelin Theatre. Josh is also resident Lighting Designer and Production Manager for Keen Company in New York City and the Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont. He began studying design at Middlebury College and holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Leslie Bernstein (Costume Designer). Selected theatre credits: Off-Broadway: Brothers Booth (world premier, Samuel Beckett Theatre ); Bad Girls (NYC premier), Love in the Age of Narcissism (The Directors Company); Hard Feelings (Women’s Project); Women’s Work (Phil Bosakowski Theatre); The White Whore and the Bit Player (Theatre Row Theatre). Off Off Broadway: Magpie (world premier, Amas Musical Theatre); Ghosts (Rebel Theatre Co., resident designer); King of Clocks, Life’s a Dream (HERE Theatre); The Marathon 2002: Series A (NYC premiers, Ensemble Studio Theatre); Six Available Men (NYC premier), The First Course, The Beach Plays (HB Playwrights); Life Happens (NYC premier), Hedda Gabler, The Big Knife, The Happy End, Hopscotch, Shooting Gallery, Hot L Baltimore, Loot, An Ideal Husband, A Month in the Country (T. Schreiber Studio).

Jonathan Herter (Sound Designer) has been the resident sound designer and engineer for Syracuse Stage and SU’s Department of Drama since the 1997-1998 season. He has designed about 56 productions for the Stage, and he has designed shows for numerous other LORT theatres, Syracuse University’s Department of Drama and some local spaces including the Redhouse.

TICKETS

Godspell runs November 25-December 28 at Syracuse Stage. Tickets are now on sale, ranging $24-$48, with discounts for seniors, students and groups. Rush tickets range $20-$30 on the day of performance. Student rush tickets are $9 on the day of performance, with student ID. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Syracuse Stage Box Office at 820 East Genesee Street, by telephone at 315-443-3275, or online at SyracuseStage.org. For Group Discounts (10 or more) call 315-443-9844.

VPA

VPA is the creative center of Syracuse University. The college comprises five areas: the School of Art and Design; the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies; the Department of Drama; the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music; and the Department of Transmedia. Together, students, faculty and staff play a vital role in the academic and cultural life of the University and Syracuse communities. Learn more about the college at http://vpa.syr.edu.

SYRACUSE STAGE

Syracuse Stage is Central New York’s premier professional theatre. Founded as a not-for-profit theatre in 1974 by Arthur Storch, Stage has produced more than 220 plays in 35 seasons including numerous world and American premieres. Each season upwards of 90,000 patrons enjoy an exciting mix of comedies, dramas and musicals featuring the finest professional theatre artists. In addition, Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves over 30,000 students from 24 counties. Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). In addition to ticket sales, Syracuse Stage performances are made possible by funds from Syracuse University, the Central New York Community Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, Onondaga County, and corporate, foundation and individual donors.