Hillside Chats: Jesus, Judas, and A Piece of Us All

If I had to choose my two favorite things about BC, they would have to be the theater department and the boys. If you also have an appreciation for beautiful things, or share either of these interests, then I have some good news:

GODSPELL has opened. This is kind of a big deal. As of Tuesday morning—as in 3 days after tickets went on sale—the entire run of the show has sold out. If you missed the pre-sale opportunities for tickets, I suggest buying them off your friends for any of the Thursday or Friday shows because this is one production you don’t want to miss. Trust me. Show times are 8pm on Thursday, 7:30pm on Friday, and the place to be is the Bonn Theater in Robsham.

With such a huge crowd expected, it’s apparent that GODSPELL is something worth talking about. I met up with actors Jared Reinfeldt (Judas) and David Makransky (Jesus) to get the details on why it is a little something more than just another theatrical production.

Hi guys, it’s great that I was able to get a hold of you both so close to opening night! How are you feeling?

Jared: I’m pretty excited! Once we got in the Bonn we had the band and the lights and it started feeling like a show. It was pretty amazing to go from listening to just piano for 8 weeks to the full ensemble. It was even more amazing was when we started getting the timing right.

David: Yeah, definitely, it also helped the energy last night that we had some non-Dramatic Society people there for the first time. So for me that was huge. It was awesome.

So everything’s ready?

Jared: I think so, now we’re just getting the risers in so our audiences can sit.

David: The timing has worked out perfectly. We have nothing else to iron out, but it’s nice that we have an extra night just to cement it.

Jared: Oh, yeah I agree. Our build process was a little rough but we had a ton of people come out who aren’t involved in the show to help build stuff and paint the floor. It was nice support from the outside community.

What exactly is GODSPELL? What’s the draw?

David: It’s the Gospel of Matthew; godspell is the archaic spelling of gospel—that’s where the name comes from. It’s a musi with a pointed message. The Bible is very broad, so this telling is focused on just the community aspect of Christianity.

Jared: It’s not a show about religion—it would be pretty hard to do the entire Bible in one play—so everyone can appreciate it. It’s also the first musical the Dramatic Society has ever done; that’s different. I think it makes sense that there’s a good crowd. Personally, I like musicals more than plays.

David: That’s true. It’s a very well-known musical.

Jared: It’s also not a classically styled genre of music; it’s not a ballad-filled musical, but rock, which is more exciting. It’s funny, dramatic at times, I guess, but not at all deeply preachy.

David: For sure it’s a good time!

Jared: Yes, we promise a good time!

David: In a platonic sense.

Most people in your platonic audience are used to Main Stage shows. How is working in the Bonn different for both actors and the audience?

David: I love it.

Jared: It’s 180 degrees different.

David: With the Bonn, there are 3 sides of audience, so you see everything except our backs. It’s the first black box show I’ve ever done, so it’s a really cool experience. It also makes sense theatrically, because the show is all about community and building relationships.

Jared: At first I was nervous being so close to the audience because you can’t remove yourself. But I can’t imagine doing it in on Main Stage now.

David: Yeah, the music is so loud that you’re definitely supposed to do it on a proscenium stage but we’ve changed a lot and now it’s much more interesting [laughs].

Jared: We’ve improvised a good deal of jokes to fit the Bonn setup: we made them funny to us, which led to some really rejected characters. [They both laugh]

What is it like working on a religious themed show? Has it affected you personally?

David: Well, I’m a Buddhist. It’s been eye-opening to me. I’ve read the Bible and so this experience has certainly given me a deeper level of understanding. Some of GODSPELL is definitely commentary by the playwright, so it’s a combination of preserving the message but changing the order of scenes to make an artistic work.tumblr_m6d54lDZ1Q1rybdm6o1_500

Jared: I’m a Christian—and we have people who are atheist or different denominations in the cast—so for me it’s really interesting to see how everyone can agree on the community aspect of it. That’s what we keep coming back to in rehearsals: an emphasis on community. For me, I feel like working on the show has enabled me to see that Judas is just as human as the rest of them. It’s made me go back and examine the character because I kind of just dismissed him in the past.

David: Yeah, I had an idea of them as not really human beings but just figures. Now I view them as full people.

Jared: Which is good.

David: I would say so.

How do you think the public is going to react, especially since we’re a Jesuit school?

Jared: I think it will be interesting to see—it’s kind of what David and I were saying, GODSPELL presents a more human version of the story. A lot of people at BC are Christian and this is a revisited story. GODSPELL brings humanity to it in a new way.

David: We’re also drawing connections between the Gospel of Matthew and the Marathon Bombings. We’re showing how the community gives us strength to get through hardship.

Jared: And helps us to rebuild.

David: [They look knowingly towards one another]. We draw a parallel or two.

Jared: Or two.

David: I’m thinking of the Marathon for a lot of the show. I draw a lot of emotional inspiration from the Marathon, and I hope the audience will feel that emotion, too.

 ’m feeling it already! Who knew you guys had such a cool dynamic added. Speaking of dynamics, how’s the cast?

Jared: It’s the weirdest cast of people I’ve ever worked with—and I say that in the best way possible!

David: We get along really well.

Jared: Really well. We fit together so naturally, it’s crazy.

David: 60% of the cast are freshmen.

Jared: Yeah, I didn’t know anyone except one person, which makes it really fun getting to know everyone. I actually really enjoy coming to rehearsal. 

Aw. It sounds like you guys have really embraced the theme of community.

Jared: Because I’m Judas I wasn’t allowed to talk to any of the cast members for a few days during the character shaping process. It’s crazy because you’re spending 25-30 hours a week with these people, so it was very powerful. You kind of begin to notice how great these people are.

David: And how talented they are.

Jared: Yeah, it sucks you can’t applaud when they sing!

Alright, I know you have rehearsal but before you go, what are your favorite parts of the show?

David: When you—when Jesus reencounters Judas.

Jared: That cannot be your favorite! No, that’s my least favorite! Right before I crucify you?

David: 20 seconds before I get crucified. It’s 3 lines.

Jared: I don’t say anything.

David: I say 3 lines and it is so powerful. We talk about how GODSPELL understands humanity, well in that moment that’s Jesus’s most powerful human experience. He’s at the crux of dying and loving his best friend, who is the man who’s doing it.

Jared: Well now I have to make sure I don’t mess that up!


GODSPELL has a lot of meaning woven into it, in more ways than one. The only “mess up” would be not seeing it.

Images via Tumblr.