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Viewfinder: Under a (God) Spell

The Castle Craig Players pay tribute to their former music director with a production of 'Godspell' that opens Friday.

Jill Riggles, former music director of the Castle Craig Players, had always wanted to do Godspell. In honor of Riggles, who passed away in November at age 57, the group is performing the musical starting this weekend.

"This is a little bit of our gift to her," Melanie Del Sole, director of Godspell and co-founder of the Castle Craig Players, said. 

Godspell tells parables from the gospel according to Matthew--with a modern interpretation. Jesus gathers disciples in New York City circa the late 60s/early 70s in this musical that weaves stories together with memorable songs like "Day by Day" and "By My Side."

The show, now a classic, began as John-Michael Tebelak's master's thesis at Carnegie Melon University in 1970. It debuted off-Broadway a year later with a new score by Stephen Schwartz and has been performed in countless venues large and small since. Many of the 10 talented young local actors in the Castle Craig cast were fortunate to catch a recent nine-month revival on Broadway that just closed in June.

To keep the show fresh, each production gives its own interpretation, often incorporating references to current events. In this Castle Craig production, the theater itself is laid out in a unique and intimate way. The audience sits on either side of a narrow strip where the actors perform. 

"We wanted to bring the show as close to the audience as possible," Del Sole said. 

If you want to experience the intimacy and youthful exuberance yourself, performances take place at the , 59 West Main St., on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., August 3, 4, 10 and 11. You can also catch a matinee on Sunday August 5 or 12 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15. Reservations are required. For tickets and information, visit the Castle Craig Players website at www.castlecraig.org, call (203) 634-6922 or email boxoffice@castlecraig.org.

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