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Middle schoolers bring Broadway to Rosemount

Rosemount Middle School students rehearse Tuesday afternoon. The students will present the musical Godspell April 12 and 13.1 / 2
Rosemount Middle School students will present the Godspell Junior April 12 and 13. A revival of the grown-up version of the show is currently playing on Broadway2 / 2

The cafeteria at Rosemount Middle School was filled with the sounds of students singing on a recent Tuesday afternoon.

It's a situation that might seem unusual on most days. Lunchtime sing-alongs are not a common occurrence at RMS. But on this particular occasion it feels about right. The students aren't enjoying a meal. The tables have been cleared away. The halls outside the doors are mostly quiet, and the students are gathered to rehearse for next week's performance of Godspell Junior.

The students will present the musical April 12 and 13. A revival of the grown-up version of the show is currently playing on Broadway.

Director Colleen Martin-Oake said she chose the show in large part because of the music.

"It's got great pop songs," she said.

Those songs appear to be catching on with the students, who belt out their parts and ham things up with big arm gestures and facial expressions. Everybody seems to be having a good time.

It's a big production to take on with a group of young actors, but Martin-Oake said her cast of about 30 students has done a good job tackling the challenge. Modern technology has helped.

"With iTunes and access to the Internet, I think kids can learn songs a lot easier," she said.

There is another group of 30 or so students in the show's stage crew.

The set features two faux-brick walls the students will cover with graffiti before the show hits the stage for real. The stage itself will not arrive until the end of the week. For the time being, students have to make due with some landmarks to help them know when they wander off into what would ordinarily be the front row of the audience.

Godspell, which originally opened in 1971, is structured around a series of parables based on the Gospel of Matthew and filled with songs.

Martin-Oake knows there might be some concerns about bringing a show with a name like Godspell into the public school setting, but she said religion plays little role in the production. She had a meeting early on with parents of the cast and crew to discuss any concerns.

"I just said, 'You interpret it however you want," Martin-Oake said. "Really, it's just a great story with life lessons."

The students have been working on the show for nearly two months now. Martin-Oake said things are coming together well.

"It's been really fun," she said. "They're really cute. They came up with some of their own costumes. They're really expressing their individuality."

RMS will present Godspell at 7 p.m. April 12 and 13.