CAMEO theater in Medina is inviting audiences to “join the revolution” as it offers the musical Godspell with a twist: This local production is set in a totalitarian state where democracy has broken down.
When audience members see soldiers walking around in riot gear on stage, that won’t look so foreign. Director Colin McCord, who had been planning the concept for the show from last fall, had no idea how relevant it would be.
“Literally, the show looks now like it was taken straight from the news,’’ he said. “I never expected the way that current events would happen for it to be as topical as it is right now.”
McCord, a 2013 Anderson University graduate, worked in Indianapolis before recently moving back to his native Medina. He said the 2012 revival version of Godspell, which premiered in 1971, focuses on the divinity of storytelling, adding contemporary references and new arrangements.
Amid today’s political rhetoric and worldwide violence, the director talks about a revolution of the heart through this musical, which explores the teachings of Jesus in a story of love, unity and friendship. He sees Jesus’ disciples as underground rebels.
“It’s this vagabond group of rebels that together realize they have the power and position to be change agents,” he said.
McCord, 26, hasn’t changed Godspell’s script but he has renamed the disciples, who used to be referred to by each actor’s name. He has worked to give them character arcs with names like The First One, The Doubter, The Revenant, The Persecutor, The Illusion, The Captive and The Foundation.
Connor Stout of Medina will star as Jesus, with Kent State University musical theater major Kyle Burnett playing Judas.
Akron-area actors include Copley High School graduate Claire Twigg as The Captive, Copley High students Jared Levy as The Revenant and Joshua Johnson as an ensemble member, University of Akron student Olivia Petrey in the ensemble, and St. Vincent-St. Mary student Hope Spinner as The First One. Others are Kent State University grad Amanda Tidwell as The Doubter and KSU student Anna Gallucci as The Fireball.
CAMEO is the resident company at the Medina Performing Arts Center, 851 Weymouth Road, Medina. The community theater has produced musicals there for 13 years.
The show will open Friday and run through July 31. Times are 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and July 28 as well as 2 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $18, or $15 for students, senior citizens and military. See www.cameo-medina.org.
• Ohio Shakespeare Festival will kick off its new Family Theatre programming with the swashbuckling adventure Robin Hood: An Adventure With Music at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at Stan Hywet, 714 N. Portage Path, Akron. The comedy, billed for the whole family and written by Terry Burgler, promises adventure, romance, swordplay and tights.
Music and lyrics are by Scott Campbell. Andrew Cruse will star as Robin Hood, Tess Burgler as Maid Marian and David McNees as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Cost is $28-$33 or $15 for students. Children 2 and under are free in open seating. Call 330-673-8761 or see www.ohioshakespearefestival.com.
• The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival extends its weekends with free Akron Symphony Orchestra performances each Sunday, starting this weekend.
The ASO will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Firestone Park to cap off a weekend of dance by Neos, followed by concerts at 7:30 p.m. July 31 at Hardesty Park, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Glendale Cemetery and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at Goodyear Metro Park. The latter three weekends follow Friday-Saturday performances by Verb Ballets, GroundWorks and Keigwin + Company.