Kids-N-Co chose the musical Godspell as the El Paso children’s theater company’s first performance at First Presbyterian Church, the group’s new home.
The play, written by Stephen Schwartz, interprets the Book of Matthew through acting, singing and dancing.
“If seventeen-year-old blue-haired Jesus doesn’t float your boat, that’s okay,” said director Rachael Robbins, 22. “It doesn’t float my mom’s boat either. She might not come to see the show but that’s okay because that’s everyone’s personal interpretation and this is my interpretation and this is my cast’s interpretation.,”
The pastor of First Presbyterian Neil Locke performed in the play and encouraged Kids-N-CO to choose Godspell for the spring performance, despite concern it could be controversial.
“Jesus was called blasphemous during his own lifetime. So sometimes if you’re not stirring the pot, you’re not doing it right,” Locke said.
He shares the role of Judas with Romanti Mata ,21, the son of another pastor. “Using all of my previous knowledge helps me understand Judas as character as opposed to just seeing him as the evil person,” Mata said.
The play has had critics since the audition process for its content and because it was performed in a church.
“The show has clowns giving an interpretation of the bible and I feel like that is inappropriate,” said Veronica Dominguez, a parent of an actor with the children’s community theater company. “I can’t believe Pastor Neil has allowed this. It feels like they are mocking the bible and everything it stands for.”
Kids-N-Co founder Stella Gutierrez doesn’t view the play as offensive.
“It’s still a story with a great ending with a lot of hope and I don’t see how that’s bad,” Gutierrez said.
Youth theater groups across the country have performed Godspell. Gutierrez said the audience in El Paso included people of all ages.
“We had a class from UTEP’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute attend the dress rehearsal and we had a great response from them,” Gutierrez said.
Kids-N-Co is in rehearsals for the next show, Sally Cotter and the Censored Stone, a play based on the Harry Potter novels, which opens May 3rd at First Presbyterian Church.