Acts of God: ‘Godspell’ performs in Dyker Heights church • Brooklyn Paper

Acts of God: ‘Godspell’ performs in Dyker Heights church

Hallelujah: Godspell star Miguel Sierra rehearses for the July 26 opening night.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Oh holy nights!

Take a seat in the pews for a performance of the iconic musical “Godspell” at a Dyker Heights church. The blessed three-night production from the BrooklynOne theater company, starting on July 26, fits right into the house of worship, said its director.

“Because we’re doing ‘Godspell,’ in terms of content, I think it actually only helps to enhance the story,” said Anthony Marino, who also plays the musical’s John and Judas characters. “We are able to create an immersive experience that both puts you in a place that is obviously very much a church — but in the beginning of our story, you don’t feel like you’re in a church. That changes throughout — it’s able to help us tell the story.”

The Dyker Heights director said that he made very few changes to the script, since it is already based on holy scripture. He mainly updated a few jokes to make them more appropriate for today’s audiences, instead of those of nearly 50 years ago.

“We have been given some license to update some of the music and some of the script, but stayed very faithful to the 1971 original Off-Broadway version,” he said. “We updated some of the jokes to be a little more relevant. Nothing too crazy, made it more relevant from 1971 to 2018.”

And Marino said it is a blessing to put on this musical with his 10 cast members, since it is just what the company’s late founding partner would have wanted, he said.

Blessed: Danielle Giacino-Papaleo leads the cast of Godspell during a rehearsal.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

“My co-founder Tom Kane always thought it would be a cool idea. He passed in 2011. It was a project that’s always sort of on the back burner, never got around to it,” said Marino. “We were presented with the opportunity to do it and said, ‘Let’s capitalize on it.’ ”

The group has never performed in an actual church before, said Marino, but it is not much different than a typical theater — except that there are pews instead of theater seats.

“Hopefully those are comfortable for the audience,” he said. “We’re using the aisles, using the altar, using the whole space. It’s got some really beautiful features. The lighting and sound had to be creative to incorporate them into the space.”

The cast will be joined by Staten Island-based punk rock group the Government to really liven up the room, he said.

“I’m so excited for the music,” said Marino. “The music and concept is sort of punk rock. We adapted the songs to sound very rock, very punk.”

“Godspell” at Redeemer St. John’s Sanctuary (939 83rd St. between Seventh and 10th avenues in Dyker Heights, www.bkone.org). July 26 at 8 pm, July 27 at 3 pm and 8 pm, July 28 at 4 pm. $20.

Praying together: Co-directors Anthony Marino and John Panepinto are staging a production of the musical Godspell.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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