Musicals at Richter (MAR), celebrating 37 seasons as Connecticut’s oldest open-air theater, opens its main stage season with Stephen schwartzThe iconic musical “Godspell”, from July 23 to August 7. Presented on the grounds of the Richter House Arts Center (next to Richter Park Golf Course), 100 Aunt Hack Road, Danbury, performances take place outdoors under the stars Friday through Sunday evening, with additional performances specially reduced prices on Thursday July 29 and August 5.
“Godspell” was the first major musical theater offering from the three-time Grammy and Academy Award winner Stephen schwartz (“Wicked”, “Pippin”, “Children of Eden”), and it took the world by storm. “Godspell” premiered on Off Broadway in 1971 and was adapted for theaters in 1973, followed by Broadway hits in 1976 and 2011 and numerous subsequent covers and tours.
Based on the gospel of Saint Matthew, “Godspell” was originally conceived and directed by John-Michael Tebelak, who also wrote the book. The plot follows a small group of people who help Jesus Christ tell different parables using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques, and heavy doses of comedic timing. An eclectic mix of songs, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville, is used as the story of the life of Jesus dances across the stage. Obsessively dissolving in the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Jesus’ messages of kindness, tolerance and love come alive with brilliance. The score features a parade of beloved songs including “Day by Day”, “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”, “Learn Your Lessons Well”, “All for the Best”, “All Good Gifts”, “Tournez” back, O Man “,” Beautiful city “and” By my side “.
“Godspell” is directed and choreographed by Musicals to Richter’s founding artistic director, Bradford Blake of Danbury. Blake’s work has also been seen locally at TheatreWorks New Milford, Ridgefield Theater Barn, Sherman Playhouse, Western Connecticut State University, Southern Connecticut State University, Bushnell Theater in Hartford, Shubert Theater in New Haven and in several theaters in Manhattan and around the world. the Northeast .. An accomplished songwriter and lyricist, Brad is the author of “Smorgasbord!”, “Stay Tuned” and of the vacation ride “Slay”, “Wreck the Halls”.
Joining Blake as Music Director is Peter Randazzo from Trumbull. Randazzo last served as the pianist and conductor for MAR’s production of “Hello, Dolly!” in 2016. Long active in the theater world, he is one of the musical directors of Curtain Call in Stamford where he will make “1776” after this production. He has also worked on numerous shows at area high schools including Amity and Cheshire High, where he conducted “Little Women” last spring. Randazzo has been nominated multiple times for Best Music Director at the Connecticut HS Music Theater Awards. He worked as an instructor for the nonprofit organization KEYS, which offers free instrument lessons to Bridgeport students. He is the director of the Park Street Singers in New Canaan and most recently was music director for the upcoming Vocal Match TV show this fall.
The cast of “Godspell” includes a number of accomplished MAR veterans and talented newcomers. Featured in the ensemble cast are Billy Hicks (New Milford) in Jesus, Kyle Riedinger (Southington) in John the Baptist / Judas, Victor Garry Roldan (Bethel) in Jeffrey and Zachary Theis (Hamden) in Lamar. They are joined by Samantha LaMendola as Sonia, Kevin Sayour as Herb and Daisy Stott as Peggy (all from Brookfield). New York State residents at the company include Renee Browne (Patterson) as Robin, Tori Vacca (New Windsor) as Gilmer, and Sarah vonEgypt (Hopewell Junction) as Joanne.
The show is produced by Musicals at Richter Acting Artistic Director Joyce Northrop (Danbury) and MAR alumnus Olivia Minor (Danbury) serves as stage manager.
“Godspell” is presented in special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI). Richter’s 2021 season musicals are being funded in part by a generous grant from the City of Danbury Cultural Commission.
The 37th season ends with the “Stars Out for Richter: A Community Cabaret of Talent” on Friday August 13th (rain date Saturday August 14th). This one-night stand of music and entertainment is a celebration and fundraiser to support the rebuilding of the Musicals at Richter stage.
For “Godspell”, the grounds open at 7:00 p.m. for picnics, with the show at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $ 25 for adults, $ 20 for seniors and students (with ID), and $ 15 for children 10 and under. For Thursday performances (July 29 and August 5), tickets are $ 20 for adults, $ 15 for seniors and students and $ 10 for children 10 and under. Members of the public are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets for the seating on the lawn. A limited number of chairs are available for free in the concession area, and a snack / non-alcoholic beverage concession is available on-site.