Godspell comes to Bendigo

Godspell rehearsal

The Weeroona Uniting Church in Bendigo will perform the musical Godspell on the Palm Sunday weekend.

Godspell is a popular Broadway production that tells the story of Jesus’ ministry, culminating in his crucifixion on the cross. The musical is structured around the parables in Matthew’s Gospel and is interspersed with modern music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns.

Weeroona Uniting Church member Vern Wall is director of Godspell. He said that while a small part of the musical has been modified, their adaptation maintains the spirit and songs of the original production.

“We felt it was really meaningful to have the story of Godspell just before Easter. It’s a really powerful presentation to do leading up to Holy Week,” he said.

“We also find it’s a great way to bring families together, particularly as we have amalgamated three churches.”

In 2014, the Bendigo congregations at Arnold Street, Neale Street and White Hills merged to form the Weeroona congregation. As a relatively new church, the musical provides an ideal opportunity for congregation members to combine their voice and talents together.

Musical productions demand much preparation and hard work from dedicated volunteers. Approximately 70 people from the church and the wider community are involved in Godspell. This includes 25 people in the choir, 30 in the chorus, 12 musicians and people helping out backstage and acting as ushers on the day of the performance.

“We started rehearsing at the start of February,” Mr Wall said.

“We’ve tried to do a church musical once every two years. It’s a big effort so it can’t be something that can be approached every year.

“Outreach is another aspect of Godspell, so we’d like the community to come along and connect with them that way.”

Damien Hurrell is a member of the Weeroona congregation and will be playing the roles of John the Baptist and Judas.

“They’re fairly hefty roles with some heavy-duty stuff in it, but I’m really looking forward to it,” Mr Hurrell said.

“I’ve been a member here for many years and I’m quite an enthusiastic singer. When we talked about doing a musical ­– and I’ve been in the last couple – I was keen to be a part of it.”

The Weeroona congregation may only be two years old, but it is already an active and vibrant community. Rev Susan Malthouse-Law began her ministry at Weeroona last year and said it was a privilege to be part of a congregation that has a strong commitment to outreach and creative collaboration.

“Getting to know everyone has been a great blessing and becoming part of this very enthusiastic community, leading worship and doing creative things in worship has been lots of fun,” Ms Malthouse-Law said.

“Just being part of a community and bringing God alive in new and different ways for the community has been really exciting.

“We are a very busy congregation – we’ve got multiple afternoon fellowship groups, numerous home bible studies group, kids club, a youth group, a very talented choir, a playgroup and a men’s breakfast group that meets on Saturday morning. There are lots of things going on.”

Godspell will be performed at the Saturday 19 March at 7:30pm and Sunday 20 March at 10am at the Weeroona Uniting Church on 21 Condon St, Bendigo. Entry is by donation, with proceeds going to support the work of UnitingCare Bendigo to assist local refugee families.

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