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Stage Notes presents ‘Godspell’ in Sackets

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SACKETS HARBOR — The Gospel truth is that performers in the upcoming Stage Notes production of “Godspell” had some special inspiration last fall to do a divine job.

Ticia K. Marra, director and founder of the theatrical production company for youth, said that before the show was cast, Stage Notes’ players last fall visited Broadway to see the revival of the musical, which closes on Sunday.

Following the show, Stage Notes members met with some of the Broadway “Godspell” players outside of the theater.

“For many of the students, it was their first trip to New York City and their first Broadway show,” said Ms. Marra.

Before seeing “Godspell,” Ms. Marra’s students also had a workshop in New York with Taylor Sternberg, a member of the cast of “Jersey Boys.”

“He taught the kids one of the routines from the show and then he had a great question-and-answer session with them,” Ms. Marra said. “That was also very inspiring.”

The 23 performers in Stage Notes, ranging in age from kindergarteners to seniors, will present “Godspell” for four shows June 28 to 30 at Lake Ontario Playhouse. Playing the lead of Jesus is Cameron Devlin, a graduating senior at Watertown High School who this year received the annual $500 Heather A. Freeman Foundation Scholarship, given annually to a graduating senior of Stage Notes.

While on Broadway last fall, Cameron, who didn’t know at the time he would be cast as the lead, met Hunter Parrish, the actor who played Jesus in the latest Broadway production of “Godspell.” Mr. Parrish is also known for playing Silas Botwin in Showtime’s television series “Weeds.”

“Godspell” is based on the Gospel of St. Matthew and focuses on Jesus’s messages of kindness, acceptance and love. The original show was directed by John-Michael Tebelak, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Songs include “Day by Day,” “Light of the World” and “Beautiful City.” It was an off-Broadway hit before running on Broadway from June 1976 to September 1977. It won the 1977 Tony Award for best score.

The latest “Godspell” production on Broadway has an updated setting, which Ms. Marra will follow.

“Most of the time when the older generation thinks of ‘Godspell,’ we think of the hippies and the clowns and that sort of thing,” she said. “We think ’70s. The new Broadway version takes that away. It’s still really fun, bright and energetic, but it’s not the hippie clown. It’s present-day.”

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Since its inception in 2009, Ms. Marra’s Stage Notes has presented annual shows to benefit the local nonprofit Heather A. Freeman Foundation. She said the three shows have raised more than $10,000 for the foundation.

This year, in addition to the foundation, proceeds from the fourth annual musical will help in the construction of a “cafeteria” at the Little Voice Orphanage in Leogane, Haiti.

Ms. Marra said that Stage Notes member and WHS rising junior Jonathan (“L.J.”) White visited Haiti with his mother over spring break. L.J.’s brother, Jason, is the project manager for the Delaney Bay Fund, a charitable organization based in Watertown that funds relief work in Haiti.

“They went to this little boys’ orphanage and found that these kids don’t have a dining area,” Ms. Marra said. “They eat outside in the elements.”

L.J. took pictures and measurements and brought his idea about raising money for the cafeteria to Ms. Marra.

“It will basically be coverage from the elements and a dining table,” Ms. Marra said. “Right now, they sit outside, under a tree — maybe.”

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Cast members in Stages Notes’ production of “Godspell”: Cameron Devlin as Jesus; Michael Vecchio as John the Baptist/Judas; and George Bonisteel, Julia Gagniere, Sara Glover, Stephanie Weston, Matthew Bradley, Olivia Grant, Rachel Sousa, Emily Thompson, Jonathan (“L.J.”) White, Madison Draper, Sarah Pacilio, Kenny Schimpf, Kaeleigh Meehan, Josee Petrillose, Chloe Vecchio, Chance Gerken, Braedon Kitto, Katelyn Decker, Philip Marra, Joshua Marra and Jack Marra.

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