A quarter century later, ‘Godspell’ returns to Marco Lutheran

Lance Shearer

You could call it “theater in the round.” With the upcoming production of “Godspell” at Marco Lutheran Church, the church and the theatrical group is coming full circle.

Twenty-five years ago, “Godspell” was the first play staged in what was then the new fellowship hall at Marco Lutheran. Fittingly, the beloved Broadway musical tells the story of the gospels but interpreted through a modern sensibility in a series of parables.

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Craig Greusel took the role of Jesus in that original production in 1994, as well as directing the show. A busy guy, Greusel has a day job as a music teacher at Lely High School, and also serves as music director for Marco Lutheran.

This time, he is not playing a role, but he will still be back on stage. In commemoration of the 25 years of community theater presented on the Marco Lutheran stage, four of the original cast members will be making cameo appearances during each performance.

Along with Greusel, original cast members Patti Ziesig, who is also serving as stage manager for the new production, Barbara Bonthron, and Daryl McCulley will be returning to the Marco Lutheran stage 25 years after their original turn in Stephen Schwartz’s classic musical.

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Going through a lengthy dress rehearsal on Sunday, the new cast demonstrated they have picked up the torch and are running with it, preparing to deliver a memorable musical theater experience. With Greusel at the helm, and music director/pianist Lucile Gaita leading a five-piece band, the talented singers of the cast will thrill audiences with their renditions of memorable musical numbers including “Day by Day,” “All Good Gifts,” “All for the Best,” and “On the Willows.”

Even with just the piano on Sunday, the blending of voices and contagious enthusiasm of the performers announced this community theater show has the emphasis on theater. Over the years, the theater group has presented shows including “Man of La Mancha,” “The Music Man,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Camelot,” and “Stop the World – I Want to Get Off” to Marco audiences.

To carry through on the ‘golden jubilee’ 25th anniversary theme, the show’s program includes the original pastor’s welcome, written by then-pastor Roger Stoehr for the 1994 production, along with “Pastor Kevin’s Notes” from current senior pastor Kevin Koenig.

As Koenig noted, “When Craig first told me about his desire to do an anniversary production of the very first performance in the Great Room, with as many of the original performers as possible, my first thought was: how many of the original audience will be present?”

With only three performances, on Feb. 28, March 1 and 2, each at 7:30 p.m., the answer to that may depend on how quickly those original audience members obtain their tickets. Tickets are available at the church office at 525 North Collier Blvd. For more information, call 239-394-5579.