ROD GUAJARDO / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Trinity students Christian Wroten, left, and Brooke Wiley rehearse Monday afternoon for their upcoming play, “Godspell.”

Trinity students prepare performance

Published 12:10am Thursday, May 10, 2012

NATCHEZ — Two days before a group of Trinity Episcopal Day School ninth graders were ready to perform the school’s first play in 15 years, Jesus went under the knife for appendicitis surgery.

Even without the lead actor in “Godspell,” a Broadway play structured on a series of parables based on the Gospel of Matthew, and in true theatre fashion, director and Trinity teacher Mark McNeil said “the show must go on.”

“We split up his lines and songs, and that night we ran through it to make sure everyone was comfortable,” McNeil said. “We were going to get here the day of the show at 5 a.m. and just run through it until we were ready to go, but then I realized it wasn’t right.

“Everyone put the same amount of hard work and time into preparing, and I just decided it would be repugnant to go on without our lead role.”

The play was temporarily postponed, and a week later, Mark Iles, who landed the lead role of Jesus, returned with no appendix, but ready to hit the stage.

“This is only the second time I’ve done this, so I was already pretty nervous,” Iles said. “It’s a lot of hard work.”

The cast and crew continued preparing for the performance and spent this week making sure everything was perfect for the weekend performances.

But rehearsing for a play and balancing school — especially during final exams — wasn’t the easiest task for several cast members.

Christian Wroten, who plays the role of Judas, said he wasn’t expecting the play to take up that much of his time.

“I was nervous because of how much stuff I had to learn,” Wroten said. “It’s just a lot to learn, and we have a lot of school work right now, so it’s hard to balance everything.”

Asia Thomas, who is one of three ensemble roles, said she appreciated the director’s scheduling flexibility during their final exam studies.

“Mr. McNeil made it really easy because for the first couple of weeks, he scheduled everything around our activities to make sure we wouldn’t get behind on anything,” Thomas said. “It was a lot more work than I thought.

“I have to make sure I remember all the lines and all the movements.”

With all the lines learned and all the tableaux movements choreographed, McNeil said he hopes the performances this weekend will help re-launch the performing arts programs at Trinity.

“This is going to be something new, an inaugural performance and we hope this will start the program up again,” McNeil said. “They have all put in the hard work and dedication, so we hope the community comes out to support it.”

Admission to “Godspell” is $5 and will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday.