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Godspell production begins Friday

Godspell castmembers practice a scene during a recent rehearsal. From left are Mark Fulfs, Haakon Vaadeland, Gail Haller and Joe Bolling. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 2
Nate Irvin, from Minneapolis, is joining this year's Northern Light Opera Company cast to play the part of Jesus in Godspell. He was a finalist in the NHS Musical Theatre Awards this year in New York City. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

Century School's cafetorium is being transformed into a theater for a production of "Godspell," which opens this weekend.

The Northern Light Opera Company has been in rehearsal for "Godspell," its 9th annual summer production, for several weeks. It is scheduled to open Friday, July 30 and will run through Aug. 7.

Because of the closing of Park Rapids Area High School's auditorium this summer for repairs, NLOC embarked on a search for a new performing space and landed at the Park Rapids Century School.

"The biggest challenge is going to be the transformation of the non-theatrical space into a theater," says Greg Paul, designer and technical director.

He has been working on risers that will give the audience a "theater" feel rather than the bleachers at Century. About 300 people can be seated in the theater with the new risers. The front row will likely have pillows on the floor for children or others to sit on, giving a comfortable feel to the show.

"Godspell" is different from previous NLOC shows in that it is an ensemble cast, with each actor onstage for the duration of the show.

"Rehearsals involve a lot of physical work and exercises to create characters and build the ensemble. The feeling of the show is one of the 'poor theatre' - with a spirit of DYI (do-it-yourself)," said director Lisa Dove.

The first week was spent working on physical comedy.

"It's deceivingly hard," said Nate Irvin, who is playing the part of Jesus in the show. "The story requires you to find your own arc."

Luke Swenson, a cast member, said this is his first time acting in an opera and it has been exciting and scary.

"It's definitely an adrenaline rush," he said. "That's what I like about acting."

He brings experience from theater, speech and other activities at Park Rapids Area High School.

Brinn Krabbenhoft is a Northern Light Opera Company veteran. This will be her fifth show. Participating in the opera is something she looks forward to each year.

"I think it's one of the few musically creative outlets for adults in our community," she said.

Cast members are Luke Swenson, Gail Haller, Kate Hanisch, Haakon Vaadeland, Brinn Krabbenhoft and Ben Pilkey of Park Rapids; Mark Fulfs of Sebeka; Joe Bolling of Nevis; and Laryssa Schoeck and Katelin DeLorenzo of Walker.

Joining the NLOC cast this year to play the part of Jesus is Nate Irvin, from Minneapolis. Irvin is a recent graduate of Minnetonka High School and was a finalist in the NHS Musical Theatre Awards this year in New York City.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 30-31 and Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 5-7. A 3 p.m. matinee performance will be Sunday, Aug. 1.

Information about tickets is available online at or by calling 237-0400.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561