Embracing the theater experience is encouraged at York Little Theatre, where a half-dozen new faces and several familiar ones are hard at work on "Godspell," opening Friday.
"From the very beginning, I just felt very welcomed," says lead actor Ben Long. "It's just a really good place to be new."
The 24-year-old from York City has been juggling his day job teaching fifth grade in Spring Grove and his grad school classes with rehearsals.
Likewise, castmate Michelle Whitlock, 37, of New Freedom juggles rehearsals around her day job as a pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church and her roles as a wife and a mother to a 14-month-old daughter.
"It's been a good 10 years or so since I've performed on stage," Whitlock says, though she confesses to being bitten by the acting bug at age 5. "I'm a performer by origin, and then I went to seminary for church music, and then I went back to seminary to become a full-time pastor."
Long, too, came from a musical tradition, performing in productions when he attended Spring Grove Area High School.
The show: Both relish the opportunity to get involved and share the stage with a powerful story like "Godspell," which delivers Stephen Schwartz's modern, musical take on Gospel parables as it explores the teachings of Jesus.
"It's a show that has a wonderful message and great music," Whitlock says. "I've loved the show since I was a teenager."
The spirit of fellowship and love shows through in the music and the choreography, the actors say.
"There's a pretty big dance number called 'All for the Best' where we all get to dance with canes, and that's a really fun one," Long says. "There's definitely a lot of emotional things going on."
The journey of the show on stage is similar to the journey offstage as characters and actors develop friendships and deepen ties.
"Everyone in the cast starts off not knowing each other," Long says. "They form that bond as the show goes on, so hopefully the audience can join in on that."
When the music and the message cross from stage to seats, the experience can be a powerful one for those in the crowd.
"They might hear a message that speaks to them in some way," Whitlock says. "The stories, I think, have different meaning to everyone depending on the point in your life where you are."
See the show
"Godspell," directed by Mark Arner, runs for two weekends at York Little Theatre, 27 S. Belmont St., Spring Garden Township.
Performances start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 15; Saturday, March 16, and March 21-23 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 17, and March 24.
Tickets are $23 for adults, $21 for seniors 62 and up, $18 for students 13 and up, and $10 for children 12 and under.
For more information, call (717) 854-5715 or visit www.ylt.org.
- Reach Mel Barber at email@example.com.