By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
For most first-time directors, the project they’re undertaking makes them a little nervous, especially if their first project is a well-known musical.
For Liberal High School drama teacher Cara Spencer, however, it’s not only been a learning experience but made her even more determined to succeed with the school’s upcoming spring production.
“I have very high expectations of myself no matter what I’m doing, whether I’ve done it before or not so I expect it to be very good,” she said. “I would never use ‘it’s my first time’ as an excuse for it to be anything less than the best that I can make it.”
The Liberal High School drama department will be performing “Godspell” Thursday night and again on Friday night. Both performances start at 7.
The story for “Godspell” is based off of the parables of Jesus from the gospels of Matthew and Luke with different types of music interspersed between the stories. Spencer says that the music was a large appeal to her.
“It’s all just really great music, and there’s something in there for everyone in the audience to enjoy – we have rap, rock, gospel, even some acoustics – I love that there’s all sorts of music in there.”
The music also appealed to senior Cedric Mitchell, who portrays Jesus in the show. Mitchell says he liked being a little outside his usual element.
“I’ve done shows here in the past but something about this show is that it’s so fun,” he said. “The other parts I had were more serious but with this show, you’re at liberty to to do more as far as being a cast member, and it’s all onstage. I also love being able to interact with the audience.”
Another aspect of the show that appealed to Spencer is the adaptability of the show. She pointed out several differences between Liberal High’s production and other productions, including the humor and a couple of the parables themselves.
“We make a couple of jokes specific to Liberal that people from outside Liberal wouldn’t quite understand,” she said. “We do a couple things like that, and we’ve re-written and re-worked the script to make it how the kids like it and think are funny.”
Spencer also talked about how she was able to bring past experiences to her musical directorial debut.
“It has been a great experience,” she said. “I’ve participated in musicals, stage-managed an opera and done a lot around many, many musicals, but I’ve never directed one.”
Spencer is not the only newcomer to Liberal High School’s drama department. For senior Tania Sarabia, who portrays Sasha, this was her first musical.
“Every year, when I saw a musical here, I would think ‘man, I wish I could have been in that,’ but I never did,” she revealed. “So this year I thought ‘you know what? I’ll try out and see what happens.’ Then I tried out and made it, and I’m happy that I did.”
The cast and crew has been in rehearsals since January and the atmosphere is one of excitement for them.
“It took us a little bit to get in the groove after we got our scripts and everything. There was a point where everyone was thinking ‘oh my gosh, this is going to be onstage and is about to happen?’” Mitchell said. “But now, it’s come a really long way and I’m enjoying working with the cast and everyone so when we have a full crowd, it will only amp us up.”
Both Mitchell and Sarabia admitted that, being seniors, it will be a bittersweet moment after the performances are over.
“It’s a bittersweet moment to leave the high school you’ve been in for four years and it’s sad that this is the last time we’ll all be onstage for a musical,” Sarabia said. “But I’m also super excited to be performing.”
Spencer added some last encouragement for people who want to attend.
“It’s going to be awesome,” she said. “It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, hopefully in a good way, and people should come see it – these kids have worked really hard, and they deserve a great audience.”
Tickets for the show will be available at the door and are $6 for students and $8 for adults.