Young actors to present 'Godspell'

Robert Inglis/The Daily Item The cast for Godspell rehearses on Wednesday for their production at Shiloh United Church of Christ in Danville.


DANVILLE — Rising Stars of Zing Productions will present "Godspell" in the sanctuary of a church.

"What better place to do it," said the Rev. Mary Schmotzer, senior pastor of Shiloh United Church of Christ. The sanctuary is also air-conditioned.

She said the church supported the school version of "Avenue Q" presented a while ago in Danville by sponsoring a puppet. 

By joining with Zing, she said it will mutually benefit the church by bringing people there to hear the message and providing space for the musical for Zing.

Rising Stars young people's group will present Stephen Schwartz's "Godspell" at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the church, at 512 Bloom St.

Seating is limited. A suggested donation is $10. A guest reception will follow each performance.

Reservations can be made by calling 570-951-6572 or at

Cast member and college student Joe Hamati, 21, has appeared in past Zing Productions. "If you want to join a theater group, join this group because you will meet a lot of kids of all ages from different school districts and it's a chance to get to know them better," he said.

Producer John Brady said this is the group's third show and "Godspell" was suggested by students and parents. Parent Chris Elio is serving as director.

The actors and singers have been rehearsing since June 1. Proceeds from tickets will support Zing arts programs and Shiloh's programs. Refreshments during shows will be available through the church, he said.

"We've had a lovely relationship with the church since Avenue Q with many friends and family members from our cast and support crew benefiting from several programs the church offers to the community," he said.    

Cast member Joseph Lobos, 18, of Elysburg, will be headed to his first year of college and is doing his first show with Zing although he has appeared in shows with the Southern Columbia High School music department. "I think it's a very good experience with a really good message and good stories and a great cast," he said of the musical based on the gospel according to St. Matthew.

Allie Willhouse, 18, of Elysburg, will also be going to college. She has been in other Zing productions and tried out for the show because it "shows all our friendships, love, spreading kindness and making the world a better place. It's something everyone should see."

Meredith Fahringer, 18, of Catawissa, will also be headed to college. She has been part of Zing shows "and wanted to do one last show before college. I really like the show."

Sixteen-year-old Maggie Stroop, of Montoursville, is doing her first Zing show after appearing in high school performances and at local theaters. She tried out because her friends were trying out and she has done shows with them before. 

Abbigail Long, 11, of Stonington, appeared in a Zing show last year. "Most of the people have been in shows before and I thought it would be fun and it is," she said. 

Director Chris Elio, of Shamokin, has three children appearing in the musical. They are Connor, 18, who will also be off to college in Maryland soon; Riley-Kate, 15; and Bennet, 11.

"I have been passionate about this show since I have been a teenager and performed in it myself. I have performed in it five times and once was as producer. More than any show, it's all about togetherness and love. When there came a time to talk about a show for the summer and a lot of the students are going to college including my son, it fit the dynamics," he said.

Justin Aurand is serving as music director.

Other cast members include Raven DePeal of Shamokin, Zachary Honabach of Catawissa and Jeremiah Thompson of Shamokin.

Making up the live band are Aurand on keyboard, Justin Gaspar on guitar, Carolyn Gatty on percussion, Christina Haverovich on flute and synthesizer and Joseph La Marca, bass guitar.

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