Godspell is an old favorite, for good reason. It tells the story of Jesus’ last days, using gentle parables from The Bible and an easy-going, ultimately touching approach. Dare To Defy’s founder, and the director of this production, Becki Norgaard, thinks this helps make the show a great fit for D2D. As she says,“One reason Godspell is ideal for us is that the staging, message and cast size make it ideal for that intimate experience in the Mathile. In addition, the music is so beautiful, complicated and diverse and I humbly assert that Dare to Defy has been fortunate to attract some of the most vocally talented actors in the area so our talent base also makes this an ideal show for us.”
It’s true that Dare To Defy can attract some pretty powerful voices and talents. This is because of it’s unique mission, that includes allowing on-and-off-stage talents “the chance to be compensated for their time and artistic contributions, allowing us to present consistent, high-quality entertainment that is assessable, relatable and affordable.” Dare To Defy is a professional company, working in the community to provide opportunities for Dayton’s deep talent pool to create work that can support the company’s artistic vision, while simultaneously helping to support themselves. Norgaard sees it as a local-love issue as well – if you’re going to pay for tickets to a show, pay to support artists who live, work, and pay taxes right here in Dayton.
It hasn’t been easy to get off the ground. Much like restaurants, many start-up theatre companies don’t last long enough to really solidify their mission. Dare To Defy, in their second season, has worked hard to cement themselves on the local landscape. Norgaard says one of the biggest things they’ve learned so far has been, “how much we have to learn. We are forging our own path. Creating something new is hard but extremely rewarding.” That means learning how to build your own audience, how to be a touring company in your own town, marketing, fund-raising and “most importantly how to recognize our mistakes, own them and continually strive to improve as an organization.”
Dayton’s a small town, and when it comes to our theatre community, it’s absolutely tiny. As a result, associations and personal relationships run deep and are important. Collaboration is huge, and Dare To Defy has made themselves a welcome addition to the Victoria Theatre Association venues, performing both on the Victoria stage (for instance, with their upcoming production of Footloose) and in the versatile, intimate black-box Mathile theatre inside the Schuster Performing Arts Center. It is in the Mathile that Norgaard will stage Godspell. As she says, “The director’s vision, the set, the choreography, the light design, the sound design, the music direction and of course the cast all combine to make something familiar into a new experience that an audience has not seen.”
Godspell debuted off-Broadway in the spring of 1971, with music written by Stephen Schwartz (with whom you might be familiar from going on to write the music for Wicked 30+ years later) and has been a theatrical mainstay since then. Though the subject matter is inherently religious in nature, secular audiences have never stayed away from the show. Norgaard is hoping the audiences come away from this production “reminded of the simplicity but overwhelming transformative quality of love, acceptance and grace…that leaves them feeling just a little bit more hopeful.”
We could all use a little more love, grace and hope.
Godspell opens October 16th at the Mathile Theatre. The show runs two weekends, Friday nights at 8 pm, and two performances on Saturday, 2 pm and 8 pm. Tickets are available at www.ticketcenterstage.com or by calling the Victoria Theatre Association Box Office at 937-228-3630