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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

entry arrow11:31 AM | Remembering Godspell

I used to do theater in college, like most of us with a certain persuasion. Had directed this and that, including Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues and Rene O. Villanueva's Asawa.

When I started out, however, it was 1996 and the local musical maven had sent out audition calls for a production of West Side Story (book by Arthur Laurents, and composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim). I went to the Luce Auditorium to give moral support for a friend ... and on a dare, I ended up auditioning as well, singing a nervous version of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil's Les Miserables. I got in.

The role given me was Diesel in West Side Story, one of the Jets, in fact their number one fighting guy. I relished in the butchness of the role, even learned to fist-fight the 1950s way. It was so ... un-me, which was why I loved it. Then the production hit a snag, and the director -- bound by some contract to produce a show -- handpicked a few of us to compose the cast for Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak's Godspell.

That was a trip: I had earlier worshipped the beautiful and haunting extravagance (bordering on sacrilege) of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, but found Schwartz's play successfully diffusing the gap between genuine piety and biting social commentary. I very much liked its liberal slyness and its (paradoxical) bright religiosity. Godspell was both staunch Methodist hymnal set to play, and counter-culture/flower children idea of bohemia.

I am reminded of all these because when I work on my home computer, my Windows Media Player music playlist is set at random. Today, that randomness picked a song from the original cast recording of Godspell. I am thinking: Godspell. That was about ten years ago. Ten years. I can't believe that ten years ago, I was someone who acted and sung in front of audiences, onstage. Seems like another lifetime, and in a sense, another personality. Today, I am able to listen to all the old songs via the wonders of LimeWire (from the excitable "Day by Day" to the haunting "By My Side"), and I suddenly miss the old ways, when we were much too young, when we heeded no inhibition and sang our hearts out, when all of life was a stage to perform in. And all was wonderful.

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