Sudbury Performance Group presents an updated Godspell

The cast of Godspell: The Rock Musical, which opens Jan. 17 at College Boreal. Supplied photo

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In the mid 1990s, Mark Mannisto took part in a production of Godspell, a major musical theatre production, and it left a lasting impact.

Now, as the president of the Sudbury Performance Group, Mannisto is helping bring Godspell back to life and to the Nickel City.

“When I was in the production, I didn’t know much about it,” Mannisto said. “For me at the time, it was something to do. It was only my second production ever being a part of. I’ve got to tell you, the production, even though it was in the mid-90s, it stayed with me.

“I met so many great friends from the production, so many lasting memories from the production, and some of the other cast members and production team have done the shows before, in years past, and they’ve all felt the same – it’s something that carries through with them, and I want to give this opportunity to people who are doing this production for the first time.”

Godspell was the first major musical-theatre offering from three-time Grammy and Academy Award winner, Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Children of Eden), and it took the world by storm. Led by the international hit, Day by Day, Godspell features a parade of beloved songs, including Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord, Learn Your Lessons Well, All for the Best, All Good Gifts, Turn Back, O Man, and By My Side.

In the show, a small group of people helps Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques and hefty doses of comic timing. An eclectic blend of songs, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville, is employed as the story of Jesus’ life dances across the stage.

Dissolving hauntingly into the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Jesus’ messages of kindness, tolerance and love come vibrantly to life.

Boasting a score with chart-topping songs, a book by a visionary playwright (John-Michael Tebelak), and a feature film, Godspell is a sensation that continues to touch audiences.

Mannisto said Godspell is not your ordinary production, as it has been completely adapted to fit in the world in 2019.

“Godspell has been around for ages,” Mannisto said. “It was almost like the prequel to Jesus Christ Superstar. What we’ve done with this production is, it’s a totally revamped production. It is more for contemporary audiences. The theme of the story is all the same, but it’s staged in such a way that it’s the 2019 version. It’s not dated whatsoever. It breathes new life into the production.

“The story, at the end of the day, is the heart and soul of the show. The story hasn’t changed. People can still expect the teaching and the moving story that comes with Godspell. This was originally composed in the 70s and we’re in a whole new world now.

“Sometimes, when you do productions that were written in a certain time frame, for when it was written it was cutting edge, state of the art, but as we progress sometimes things lose their appeal and so I’m glad that this production has been revamped and updated to make it more relatable and enjoyable to our newer audiences. And when I say newer audiences, I mean the younger audiences that might be seeing Godspell for the first time.”

Twitter: @keith_dempsey

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What you need to know

What: Godspell: The Rock Musical

When: Jan. 17-26 at College Boreal

Where: 21 Lasalle Blvd.

Tickets: tickets range from $23-$33. Seating will be done on a first come, first serve basis, and can be purchased at, Jett Landry Music, or Grove’s Your Independent Grocer. Credit card reservations can also be phoned in to 705-662-8518

For more information, visit The Sudbury Performance Group’s website at, or call 705-662-8518