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Theater group stages ‘Godspell’

August 2, 2018

Diverse characters learn from the parables of Jesus and become a group that carries on his teachings after the Crucifixion in Home Grown Theatre’s musical “Godspell” Aug. 9-12 at Memorial Baptist Church in Pasadena.

“It is very cool and exciting,” said Derrick Bready, the group’s artistic director and music director for the production.

The 1997 graduate of South Houston High School is a former choir director at Dobie High School in Pasadena and at Pearland High School, where he produced and directed shows including a 2013 production of “South Pacific” that won four Tommy Tune Awards, including best musical.

“Last summer, I started my own nonprofit community theater, Home Grown Theatre,” said Bready, who works as director of traditional worship at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in the Webster/Nassau Bay area. “Our first production was ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ presented at Alvin Community College.”

Among the actors cast in ’Fiddler” was Ricky Garza, who was a Tommy Tune nominee in Bready’s production of “Guys and Dolls” at Pearland High. Joining Ricky were his parents, Tony and Valentina Garza, and siblings Isabella and Carlos Garza.

Ricky Garza had to drop out of ‘Fiddler’ due to job responsibilities, but the rest of the family appeared in the show, and all four are back this year in “Godspell.”

“I think it is super cool that we have women as disciples” in the show, said Valentina Garza. “I play a disciple who is hard to convince. At the end, I really get it that Jesus is God.”

Clear Springs High theater director Mark Stonebarger directed “Gospell” and designed its set. It’s in the vein of the alley in his 2014 production of “Urinetown,” which won nine Tommy Tune Awards, a record that stood until Friendswood High School’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” won 10 trophies last spring for the school’s 50th anniversary musical.

Aaron Strack of Pearland plays Jesus. He is a sophomore in Molloy College’s Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP 21), a prestigious musical theater conservatory in New York City.

Judas is played by Nick Porter, a former student of Bready’s at Pearland High.

Reuniting former students from high school shows is part of what Bready was thinking of when he formed HGT.

“What do you have after you’ve been doing great high-school performances for a few years? You have a lot of local talent and skills,” he said.

In addition, Bready hopes HGT will serve as a magnet for artists and audiences across the Houston area and beyond.

Rounding out the cast of “Godspell” are Bethany Heinlein of Houston, who holds a bachelor of fine arts from Michigan State University, and married couple Keith and Krista Dupree, voice teacher Mary Gard and Clear Springs High School thespian Arielle Roberts, all of League City.

Dawn Buford of Friendswood serves as a production assistant.

Caitlin Cannon, a freelance dance instructor and former Radio City Rockette, choreographed “Godspell.”

Other Pearland residents involved with the show are stage manager Trish Baker, production manager Debbie Court and costume coordinator Telisa Brown.

“Godspell” was created by composer Stephen Schwartz, whose follow-up hits include “Pippin” and “Wicked.” Familiar songs from the score include “Day by Day,” “Learn Your Lessons Well” and “Beautiful City.”

In the 1973 movie version of “Godspell,” the characters were portrayed as hippie types. They tumbled, pranced and roller-skated through quiet, clean Manhattan streets, led by Victor Garber as a face-painting Jesus in a long-sleeved Superman T-shirt and colorful, striped pants held up by suspenders.

For further information about HGT, visit www.homegrowntheatre.net.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net

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