What If God Was One of Us?

by Nicole Chin '08

Many signs have been seen around Azusa Pacific University recently: fliers with a “G” instead the Superman “S” in that familiar triangular-shaped polygon and little playbills with the heading, “What if God was one of us?” tacked on walls and classrooms. Both of these were created to publicize APU’s current theatre production, the popular Broadway show Godspell, which originally debuted in 1971, written by John-Michael Tebelak with lyrics and music by Stephen Schwartz.

Brian Mercer directs the comedy largely based on the gospel of Matthew that poses an answer to the question, “What if God was one of us?” In his final APU stage performance, Wes Rodgers ’05, as Jesus Christ, leads a talented cast, each representing a great mind of history, through Jesus’ parables and eventual crucifixion and resurrection.

Godspell, set at the “Last Chance Café,” humorously refers to modern culture, presenting a light version of the Gospel message in an audience interactive setting. Several elements of this performance set it apart from any other seen on the APU stage this year. Foremost, the actors and actresses, while representing brilliant minds also portray themselves. Each actor or actress brings their own vulnerable self to the stage by putting bits of themselves into their characters. Another unique element is that the role of Judas alternates each night. None of the cast members know who will betray Rodger’s character until he has finished washing all faces but one. The concept that Mercer wants the audience to realize is that Judas could be any one of us, or even “all of us.”

“The stories we’re telling are Jesus’ story,” said Jennifer Jackson ’08, who plays Socrates. “To take part and be a character (in His story) makes them hit home. Wes’s portrayal is so truthful and honest to humanity that it made it more real to me.”

Mercer believes that Godspell was meant to “look at faith as intended – faith like a child.” Rodgers agrees, “That’s what I learned most out of this whole show: God loves us and we’re all kids . . . and I am on stage playing and depicting his love.”

Godspell continues at APU's West Campus Black Box Theatre February 17-19. For tickets and more information, or a calendar of upcoming shows, visit www.apu.edu/theatre or call at (626) 815-5035, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.