"High energy, funny and audience interactive," is how Director (not to mention, Arthur L. Johnson Teacher of the Year) Peter Nevargic describes "Godspell," the high school's spring musical.
The pop-rock musical is based on the gospels according to St. Matthew, telling the story of Jesus and his disciplines' last days leading up to his crucifiction.
"But it's done in very theatrical, very tongue-in-cheek way," says Nevargic. "I hesitate to tell people it's based on gospels because it doesn't proselytize. It's very nondenominational. It's really like a big party on stage. The set is a big junkyard and the characters tell the stories with things they find from the set – tires, garbage cans, etc."
And the show even features an appearance of the "Harlem Shake."
"The thing I love about this musical is they always interject topical references into it," says Nevargic. "The script is such that you can improvise a lot – our kids even do that Harlem Shake – there are a lot of theater games going on including pantomime, clowning, a puppet show, magic. It incorporates all elements of theater into it."
Nevargic said he chose "Godspell" because last year he mounted a huge cast production of "Evita" and wanted to pare down a little after losing eight senior leads.
This year the entire cast consists of only 10 students: Andre Silva Dias as Jesus; Ryan Kowalenko as John/Judas; and disciples played by Gaby Resende, Michael Palermo, Lauren Semler, Marion Petite, Ivy Meyer, Brian Milara, Sam De Salvo and Madison Silagyi. The show also opens with a filmed sequence on the big screen, shot and edited by student Devin Araujo.
"This is the first time the show is all student-run," says Nevargic. "The band is all students with the exception of one student who graduated last year and no conductor. The kids run the show backstage. And they designed and made their own costumes. It's really their show."
Beyond the actual cast, audience members can expect to become a part of the action, too, says Nevargic.
"The cast goes out into audience many times throughout the night and if there's anyone brave enough, we even have a few people come up on stage," says Nevargic.
Nevargic says the performance is a happy, joyful show, appropriate for all ages.
"Usually my shows can be a little dark, but this is the opposite," laughs Nevargic. "You can bring the kids. It takes you out of the dreariness all around us. It's a night to get out and have fun and feel good. The show is about all the positive things in humanity, and so I hope the audience leaves feeling really good about themselves and people."
Thursday, March 14 - 7PM
Friday, March 15 - 7PM
Saturday, March 16 - 7PM
Students & Senior Citizens: $5.00
Arthur L. Johnson High School
365 Westfield Avenue
Clark, NJ 07066