Logan Markiewicz (center) portraying the Jesus character performs during a dress rehearsal of  Godspell  with the alpha cast Monday night at Stewartstown
Logan Markiewicz (center) portraying the Jesus character performs during a dress rehearsal of Godspell with the alpha cast Monday night at Stewartstown United Methodist Church. The cast is divided into two groups, alpha and omega, to perform 10 nights. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS CHRISTOPHER GLASS)

The more than 100 youth in the cast and crew of Stewartstown Summer Theatre's presentation of "Godspell" weren't born when the musical debuted in New York City in 1971, or when the film was released in 1973, or when the musical was revived on Broadway in 1989.

But that doesn't matter because they know the story so well.

Based on the Gospel of Matthew, the show gives life to the parables of Jesus Christ through song, dance and humor.

"We've modernized the show, made the humor more current and redid the soundtrack so it's not so '70s sounding," Nick Olson, 16, said.

The Felton area resident, who portrays Jesus, said director Will Jenkins and producer/musical director David McDowell, allowed the cast to incorporate some of their own interpretations into the show. These include using cameos of Lady GaGa and Donald Trump.

Siona Dubs, 17, and a 2010 graduate of Susquehannock High School, portrays Lady GaGa. The sultry character was originally based on actress Mae West and later updated to pop star Madonna.

Dubs hopes Stewartstown Summer Theatre's 21st century version of "Godspell" makes the teachings of Christ more relatable to all ages, but especially other young people, she said.

"I hope people can understand that the Bible is not boring, that it can be translated into something fun and still keep true to the story," she said.

Castmate Louis Trostle, of Jarrettsville, Md., agrees.

"We live in a crazy world. Seeing the parables of Christ staged in 'Godspell' teaches life-long moral values that can help us get through the craziness," the 19-year-old said.

Stewartstown Summer Theatre is in its 31st year of providing a showcase for youthful talent from southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. Since 1980, more than 1,000 young people have filled roles in cast and crew to stage such productions as "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Children of Eden," "The Wizard of Oz," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Narnia.

Green light casts a shadow during the opening scene of  Godspell  during dress rehearsal Monday in Stewartstown.
Green light casts a shadow during the opening scene of Godspell during dress rehearsal Monday in Stewartstown. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS CHRISTOPHER GLASS)
"

Some youth, like Dubs, return year after year to be part of the show.

"This is a great opportunity to do theater. There's a great family atmosphere here that keeps drawing me back," she said.

Miranda Snyder, 14, and a soon-to-be freshman at Christian School of York, is appearing in her first Stewartstown show. Her friend, Melanie Yakel, told her it was the place to be this summer, she said.

"She said I'd meet a lot of neat people and have a really good experience. She was right," Snyder said.

- LORI BADDERS, FOR FLIPSIDE

If you go

WHAT: Stewartstown Summer Theatre presents "Godspell"

WHEN: Through Aug. 14

WHERE: Stewartstown United Methodist Church, 26 S. Main St. in Stewartstown

COST: Tickets range from $8 to $20 depending on buyer's age and choice of dinner, dessert or show-only performances.

DETAILS: Call 993-6188 or visit www.stewartstownumc.org/summertheatre