Fall Musical Q&A: An Interview with Director Noah Pligge

Fall Musical Q&A: An Interview with Director Noah Pligge

PHOTO: Director Noah Pligge, standing at right, talks to cast members during a recent rehearsal of "Godspell." 

The 2017 EPHS Fall Musical, "Godspell," will be performed this weekend in the school auditorium under the direction of Mr. Noah Pligge (director/choreographer) and Mr. Michael Popplewell (producer/music director). 

Tickets are $5, with free admission for students and senior citizens. Showtimes will be: 

► 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27
► 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28
► 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29

"Godspell" is a musical retelling of parables from the Gospels. The show, conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak with music by Stephen Schwartz, opened Off-Broadway in 1971. The EPHS production will use the 2012 revised version.

Senior Michael Matos will play Jesus, and senior Sarah Falsetti will portray Judas. Scroll down this page to see a full listing of cast and crew.

To learn more about the EPHS production, we invited Mr. Pligge to tell us about the show (see Q&A below).

For additional coverage, click here for photos from a recent rehearsal, and click here to read the Elm Leaves' excellent preview of the show. And be sure to watch the amazing preview video (located here and below) by the show's technical director, Brittany Muszynski.

Good luck to all this weekend!

Preview Video by Brittany Muszynski

Questions & Answers with Director Noah Pligge

The following is an edited version of an interview conducted via email between Mr. Pligge and District 401's web/media specialist, Mr. Dave Porreca.

What attracted you to "Godspell"? 

I have to say that I really pushed "Godspell" at the end of last school year. The group of current students are extremely talented musically, and that isn't always the case. I have been a fan of the revised version of "Godspell" since I saw it in 2012. It is a familiar show that tells a great story. It also is very much in tune with our current political climate and the sense that we should love each other no matter what.

Is it unusual for EPHS to have a musical in the fall? Will there still be a musical in the spring?

I would say it is unusual because it isn’t the norm. EPHS has always done one fall play and one spring musical. This limits the kids to exposure to a plethora of beautiful art pieces and limits their growth in theater by only having two shows. The spring always needs to follow the parameters of having a big pit for all our band kids, a huge chorus to grow the program, and a set that will challenge the crew. The last fall musical was "Little Shop of Horrors" in 2014, and it had a small cast/crew/pit as well. There will be a spring musical this year!

In general, how have the rehearsals gone?

Rehearsals have been harder than usual. We pride ourselves on having some of the most well-rounded and involved students in the building. Our team does a great job working with sports teams and clubs to make sure we are able to share our kids.

This season it has been hard. We have sacrificed a ton of rehearsal times to allow our students to get the whole high school experience. The rehearsals have been intense and long, and the students have really grown as performers in their own right. They really have a beautiful show.

How have the students responded to "Godspell"? Were they familiar with the show or with any of the individual songs?

They didn’t know "Godspell" at all when we started. The only song they knew was "Day by Day." Some of them said they knew it "kinda" but were ultimately unfamiliar, which gave us a completely fresh start.

Have you encountered any special challenges putting on a musical in the fall as opposed to the spring?

A musical in the fall is always harder because there is the music aspect that needs to take place. That involves a pit and sound, which we don’t normally have in the fall. Mike [Popplewell] was able to find us a rockin' pit orchestra of professionals as well as one of our own students playing the guitar.

Also, a musical costs more money in every sense of the show. We were able to shave down expenses by making it simpler, but the rights for the show and performances cost more. There are numerous activities and sports in the fall that conflict with rehearsals/show dates that we do not have in the spring.

Based on what you've seen in rehearsals, what do you think some of the highlights will be for audiences?

Michael Matos does a great job defining his own character as Jesus. This role in particular is vocally challenging, and he is doing a superb job. His solo toward the end of the show has a fantastic message to not only the cast he is singing it to but to the audience as well. He connects with the music and lyrics, and sometimes I forget he is just a high school senior.

The lead ensemble cast as a whole does a stellar job working as a unit throughout the show, led mainly by Julia Furgal, and it is truly inspiring to watch. Each one of them has defined their own character, and they all truly stand out in each moment.

Having Judas be played by Sarah Falsetti is a new one for me. I have never seen a female play the role, and it has opened up all new doors in my mind. Sarah commits to the role, and each moment is completely planned out straight from the beginning. Her honesty and sincerity have given her the perfect tools to define Judas.

"Godspell" Credits

► Conceived & Originally Directed by John-Michael Tebelak
► Music & New Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
► Originally Produced by Edgar Lansbury, Stuart Duncan, Joseph Beruh

► Director / Choreographer: Noah Pligge
► Producer / Music Director: Michael Popplewell
► Technical Director: Brittany Muszynski
► Costume Designer: Susan Schultz
► Assistant Director: Jessica Carmona
► Stage Manager: Kristian Guereca
► Assistant Stage Manager: Matthew McFadden   

► Jesus: Michael Matos
► Judas: Sarah Falsetti     

► Cast: Justin Eigenbauer, Julia Furgal, Yasmine Garcia, Elizabeth Goranson, Matt Hernandez, Juliet Howard, Joe Klockenkemper, Valeria Lazu, Sofia Muñoz, Kyla Narayan, Justin Nieves, Angel Ponce, Grace Rajendran, Isabella Soto, Jackie Vargas, Jocelyn Velazquez, Melody Velez

► Crew: Airyella Balthazar, Danielle Butler, Justin Capule, Isabelle Cruz, Karolina Czerepko, Isaura Davila, Alexandra Domagala, Megann Fitzgibbon, Sarah Fox, Claudia Galicia, Thailyn Gonzalez, Vincente Guereca, Sami Hickey, Sarah Ihmoud, Kyara Lopez, Aria Loranger, Kevin McFadden, Sarah Meyers, Nichole Murillo, Joshua Nava-Brown, Nathaly Ojeda-Tavel, Isaac Panno, Rosie Pontarelli, Diana Rivero, Elizabeth Schultz, Melany Terraza, Clarissa Varela, Angela Zamudio

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