An Interview with “Godspell’s” Erin Schafheitle

BY CARY GINELL

Today we bring you the third in a series of interviews with members of the Agoura High School Theatre Department’s production of Stephen Schwartz’s “Godspell.” The cast features two actors portraying Jesus (Ryan Rosenheim) and the double-role of John the Baptist and Judas (both played by Adam Fisher). The remaining 16 performers comprise the ensemble. All are excellent in their characterizations, but one in particular stood out – a red-headed dynamo named Erin Schafheitle. Only a sophomore, Erin displays a sparkle and effervescence that should take her far in musical theater. We spoke to her about her role in “Godspell” as well as her plans for the future.

VCOS: In the show, only Jesus and Judas/John the Baptist are specific characters. The rest of you perform using your own first names. How does this help you add your own personality to the role you play?

ERIN: It’s very interesting, as a performer, to be able to play a character who’s basically the extreme version of myself.  When I perform in Godspell, there’s not too much transformation to do because I basically play my alter ego. Godspell gave me the freedom to make my “character” however I wanted to, which was an absolute blast.

VCOS: Did you research other performances to help guide you on how you would play your role?

ERIN: I did some research on some performances such as the Godspell revival on Broadway to get a feel for the show and get ideas on how to perform some of the songs. However, once we started rehearsals, we were told not to refer to other performances so that we wouldn’t copy them. We wanted to execute our own interpretation of the show.

VCOS: Does this show tell you anything about the times it was first staged, in the early 1970s?

ERIN: The 1970s was a time of rock, prosperity, and hopes for peace, which is what Godspell represents. The prologue of the show, “Tower of Babble,” represents the chaos that occurred in the ’60s and mid-70s. However, religion gave people hope and faith, which distracted them from the chaos. They began to prosper, just like the characters in the show do, once they had something to believe in.

VCOS: What’s your favorite part of the show?

ERIN: I love the entire show and there are so many moments that mean so much to me. However, my two favorite parts of the show are “Light of the World” and when we say our goodbyes to Jesus during “On the Willows.” Those are two moments where I feel really connected to the cast.

VCOS: Do you have any dream roles you’d like to do in the future?

ERIN: I have many dream roles, but some of them are Elphaba or Glinda in Wicked, Eponine in Les Miserables, and Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

VCOS: What are your aspirations for the future? What would you like to do?

ERIN: I would love to pursue a career in theatre, film, or anything in the performing arts. I intend to study the performing arts in college and work my way up from there.

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Agoura High School’s production of Godspell plays through Saturday at the school’s Black Box Theatre. For dates and showtimes, see the VC On Stage Calendar.

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