Mild-Mannered Reporter

Casting light upon the apostle Sara

Should "Godspell" be performed at Dallas High School?

Don't look at me. I can't even get ice cubes out of a tray, let alone grapple with one of the thorniest theological issues of our age.

One thing I do know. Should "Godspell" come to pass, get someone better than me to run the spotlights.

My high school put on "Godspell" 22 years ago. The experience scarred me -- and probably the kid who played Jesus -- for life.

Musicals are tortuous experiences anyway.

It has been 22 years. Yet not a month goes by when suddenly, for no apparent reason, songs from "Godspell" start running uncontrollably through my head.

"I can see a swath of sinners settin' yonder and they're actin' like a pack of fools -- gazin' into space, lettin' their minds wander 'stead of studyin' the good Lord's rules."

Swath of sinners? Who the heck talks like that?

Unfortunately, I do. Thanks to "Godspell." I find myself dropping phrases like that into casual conversation. People give me the strangest looks.

I told you the experience scarred me for life. You don't even know the half of it.

As I mentioned earlier, I ran the spotlights. I was going to be in the cast, having gotten the acting bug the previous year in "Othello."

"The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief. He robs himself that spends a bootless grief."

Memorization. It's a curse, I tell you.

I actually did well in the initial audition for "Godspell." The play leans heavily on improvisation. Then came the singing audition.

People thought I was improvising the part of a stricken moose. The director told me I sing best tenor.

Ten or twelve miles away.

Actually, she told me what I needed at that point in my career was a solid grounding in the technical end of the dramatic arts. So I ran the spots.

Running the spots is like shooting a ray gun in the dark. You have to have perfect aim. And I do not. I decided to compensate by keeping my focus trained on one particular object on stage.

Namely, the apostle Sara.

I kept my focus trained on the apostle Sara most of the day anyway, so it seemed a natural transition.

Unfortunately, there were 11 other people in the cast who also needed the spotlight from time to time. Especially the guy who played Jesus.

After Jesus is crucified, the cast hoists him over their heads and carry him off stage. It is essential that they see where they are going.

Otherwise, they might drop something.

With the spot trained on the apostle Sara, the apostle Blake stumbled over the apostle Rob, causing our lead actor to fall and land squarely on his head.

This being a family newspaper and all, I better not tell you what he blurted out as he landed. Suffice it to say, he yelled out the name of his character.

Well, it wasn't exactly the name of his character. He added a particularly colorful middle name.

Poor guy. I was not his only problem. During another performance, he was to ascend to heaven with the help of a pulley system.

The idea was for him to waft gently into heaven, with the help of a burly young man back stage. The young man, a weight lifter, proved a little too burly.

Instead of wafting gently, he shot up like a rocket. He avoided obscenities this time, keeping his feelings to a simple "Ow!"

However, what will I always remember is that dull thud, followed by his feet flailing about beneath the curtain.

Maybe all high school theater departments are the same. I don't know. However, in my high school, such misadventures were common.

The real dramas were seldom played out on the stage.

During "Othello," a drunken stage hand accosted the director with a rapier. A murder victim was supposed to spit a small tablet of stage blood.

He spit out eight, splattering the audience and turning the whole production into a Gallagher concert.

So I say what the heck. Let Dallas High put on "Godspell." It won't hurt anyone. So long as I'm not on the crew.


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