‘Godspell' to benefit two stricken families

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:15

    vernon-The group of Sussex County theater students that created last summer's production of Children of Eden has come together again to put up three performances of the musical Godspell, to raise funds for two families stricken with life-threatening diseases. Performances will be Thursday, Aug. 19-Saturday, Aug. 21 at St. Francis de Sales Church on Rt. 517 in Vernon. Show times are Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are a suggested donation of $5, and may be purchased at the door. With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (author of Children of Eden), the musical Godspell explores the colorful and challenging complexities of hope and humanity with a mix of heartfelt reflection, show-stopping numbers, and flat-out fun. After the success of last summer's production of Children of Eden, Teresa Wentzell and Drew Leary, two Vernon graduates who now attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, saw this summer as an opportunity to once again bring together an talented group of young artists. Upon hearing about the struggles of Shannon Anderson from Vernon and Liese Bulman from Fredon, they knew they had to use the gifts and talents they were given to take action. Shannon Anderson is a 17-year-old student about to enter her senior year of high school, and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma earlier this year. Liese Bulman is a 35-year-old mother of a 15-month-old baby, and was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer a month ago. To help, the students set out to offer assistance to two families who need a helping hand in this time of difficulty. Every aspect of the production had to be created from scratch, and rehearsals often ran past midnight in an effort to put the show together in the best way possible and accommodate the students' work schedules. This is the third self-produced show by this group. Two summers ago they did three evenings of free theater in the park with a production of The Night Thoreu Spent in Jail. Last summer, their production of Children of Eden played to more a thousand people in its three night run. This group of friends includes some of the most talented young singers in the state, many of whom are already attending or will soon attend prestigious theater schools. Teresa Wentzell is co-producing the show and acting in the production. The show is being co-produced, directed and designed by Drew Leary. The rest of the cast includes Sussex County students Joe Conti, Katie Lee, Lindsey Longendyke, Justin Lopez, Megan Page, Emilie Peterson, Jenn Tamburo, Matt Tiberi, Charissa Horn, Drew Cranisky, Chris Justino, Scott Wentzell and Christian Lerch. The production will be conducted by Mike Romano. All proceeds will go to meet the family's needs. Direct donations to the families can be mailed to "Godspell" c/o Teresa Wentzell, 34 Eric Trail Sussex, NJ 07461. Donations may be made out to "St. Francis - Godspell." For more information, call Drew Leary at (973) 222-6403 or Teresa Wentzell at (862) 266-5430.