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BWW Previews: PATEL CONSERVATORY BRINGS GODSPELL to Straz Center For The Performing Art's TECO Theater

Put on by the Patel Conservatory Theatre Department, opening on October 26-29, students in grades seven through college will bring GODSPELL to the Straz Center for the Performing Art's TECO Theater.

The iconic musical tells the story of Jesus's life to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion through parables from the Gospel of Matthew.

GODSPELL is a sensation that continues to touch audiences with a very relevant message on peace, love and hope.

Directed by Suzanne Livesay, with musical direction by Kavan Gillespie, the cast of 18 stars Mark Bensonoff, Mitchell Broadwater, Patrick Byrns, Alyssa Cabrera, Katie Davis, Lindsey Davis, Isabella Ferber, Aaron Graham, Quinten Hall, Jessica Hill, Micah Livesay, Wren Livesay, Miranda Moore, Deborah Penny, Kate Shamblin, Olivia Speer, Cole Summers, and Bailey Walman.

For the first time in three years the musical will feature a live band with GODSPELL Musical Director as Conductor/Keyboard 1, Michael Batton - Guitar 1, Jacob Fleming - Guitar 2, Jose Ribas - Guitar 3, Gustavo Garcia - Bass, Meghan Lock on drums, Jacob Golden on Keyboard 2, and subs Joe Maury - Guitar 1.

This powerful retelling is expressed through music, dance, and theatrical poetry, using a variety of games, storytelling techniques and comic timing. In the conservatory student's production of GODSPELL, Jesus's message of tolerance, kindness, friendship, loyalty and love come brilliantly to life.

Suzanne has set the production in a school and Jesus is the new teacher that comes in on the first day of school. The musical showcases the talents of the students through songs and mini-skits, playing a variety of different characters.

"This is Gospel according to the Matthew, but don't let dissuade you if you aren't looking to see a story from the bible. It's really a story about friendship, love and understanding. It has a lot of heart. It's also very funny. There's a lot of comedic elements in the show.

One of my favorite songs is We Beseech Thee, a high-powered dance number towards the end of the show. We incorporated trampolines and it's a real fun number to watch and listen to," said Kavan. "Sort of on the opposite end, there's a really beautiful 80s power ballad called All Good Gifts. It's a great message of being thankful for what you have. The harmony is absolutely beautiful in it."

GODSPELL was the first major musical from American composer Stephen Schwartz, the author of such mega hits as PIPPEN and WICKED.

"There's a line in the song Beautiful City that says 'not a city of angels, but we can build a city of men.' I think what Stephen Schwartz was trying to say is if we all ban together even in the lowest point, we can rebuild and we move forward and things will get better. That's the message to take away," said Kavan. Leaving this show you should feel a sense of hope. It starts very positive, but does take a downward turn, but it ends very, very hopeful. People should take away that even in the darkest points in your life or the world, there is hope. There is always hope."

GODSPELL will be presented in the TECO Theater Oct. 26-29. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. (sensory friendly) and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $20, and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at www.strazcenter.org.


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