A VC On Stage Exclusive – An Interview with Jesus Christ!
Posted On December 11, 2013
Ryan Rosenheim (Jesus) and the cast of "Godspell" (photo by Leslie Gregory Haukoos)
BY CARY GINELL
We continue our interviews with members of Agoura High School’s production of Godspell with an interview with Ryan Rosenheim, who plays the role of Jesus.
VCOS: How daunting was it to be told that you would be playing Jesus Christ in a musical?
RYAN: Tackling iconic roles such as Jesus Christ is always very daunting, but being able to step into the shoes of such a significant and influential figure has been overwhelmingly fun and incredibly educational.
VCOS: Aside from the obvious religious message in the show, what have you learned from its content?
RYAN: This show barely revolves around theology. Though the messages come forth from a religious view, they can be applied to anyone of any religion or background. I have grown immensely as a human being from playing the role of Jesus, learning how to cater to any and everyone’s moral dilemmas as well as building a growing acceptance for everyone’s actions.
VCOS: Did you do any research on other actors’ performances in the same role?
RYAN: It was very difficult to find copies of Godspell (the stage version) anywhere. I did watch Victor Garber’s performance in the film adaptation, and though I enjoyed it, it did not influence my interpretation.
VCOS: What is your favorite song from the show and why?
RYAN: The song “By My Side” in the second act really gets to me. I have just finished arguing with the Pharisees and am frustrated, ready to leave, when Kendall Mordetzky and Erin Ticktin sing this beautiful harmony that stops me in my tracks. The song sends a message of determination and perseverance, and when the cast chimes in with harmony, I get to have a special moment with each of them, seeing why they each want me to stay and save them. The song also has a moment of prayer when I look to heaven for guidance, and, in turn, learn of the looming betrayal.
VCOS: How have your fellow cast members helped you in maximizing the effectiveness of your performance?
RYAN: Every single person on that stage is 100% committed to their role and their back story. I have never experienced this kind of work ethic from an entire cast. They are each uniquely and brilliantly talented, and their utter devotion and focus on stage is what keeps the show alive for me and the audience.
VCOS: Do you think non-believers or people from other faiths could enjoy Godspell? How would you get them to come see it if they say, “Oh, that’s just a musical about the Bible.”
RYAN: This show IS NOT about the religious teachings of Jesus. Godspell is essentially a show about the formation of a community, not about religion. This show can change people’s lives and perspectives if they go in with open minds. Godspell sends universally accepted messages of peace, love, friendship, trust, and morality. If the name Jesus were removed from the script—replaced with, say, Eric—the show would have the same impact on an audience. As a Jewish-raised Buddhist, I have learned an incredible sum of virtue and morality from this show, and everyone who sees it will take away something special in their hearts.
Godspell plays through December 14 at Agoura High School’s Black Box Theatre. See the VC On Stage Calendar for dates and showtimes as well as our review of the show in this week’s edition of the Acorn. The show sold out last week so get your tickets early.