For Broadway shows in New York City, actors typically have between four and six weeks to master their parts. But for the young actors in Broadway Rose's teen summer workshop, the timeline is a bit tighter.
"We really only have two weeks to prepare the full show," said Drew Havnaer, one of the stars of this summer's production. "It's a lot of work."
Havnaer, a recent Tualatin High School graduate who plans to attend Portland State University in the fall, will take on the role of Judas in Broadway Rose's teen production of "Godspell," which premieres Wednesday at Broadway Rose New Stage in Tigard. This is his fifth year participating in the summer workshop, and he's now also an intern with Broadway Rose.
Havnaer's co-star Michael James, an incoming senior at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, will have the role of Jesus in "Godspell," which re-imagines the Bible's Gospel of Matthew as a series of parables interspersed with song and dance numbers.
"It was written in the '60s, during a time of political crisis," James said about the musical. "The writers looked at the Gospel of St. Matthew and saw that this is what people in the '60s were trying to do, to build a new community together, and bring everyone together. Originally, it was a bunch of painted hippie clowns, and then Broadway revived it (in 2011). They got rid of the hippie clowns and made it more modern. ... It's about building a community within a specific area."
To prepare for the play, the cast will rehearse every weekday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the Wednesday premiere. Both James and Havnaer said they look forward to mastering their roles.
"It's very different than any of the roles I've played at my school," James said about playing Jesus. "It's not what you'd expect. He's a very different kind of character compared to everyone else ... he's very excited and playful. He really wants this, building a community, to happen."
Havnaer will be tasked with portraying the duplicitous Judas, an apostle known for betraying Jesus in an act that led to his crucifixion.
"It's really interesting to be playing, depending on who you ask, a historical character or religious figure," Havnaer said. "It'll be a challenge in one way because of that, and it'll be a challenge in another way because it's a very, very specific mindset and type of person who would, on one hand, love someone else that much, and on the other hand be open to giving them up in that way. It's a very interesting internal struggle that I'm really looking forward to picking apart in a psychology sort of way."
Though "Godspell" tackles some intense themes, James said he's most excited for the numbers when he gets to sing and dance alongside Havnaer and the rest of the cast.
"There's a number called 'All for the Best,' that's very comedic," he said, "even though it does have some very cynical lyrics."