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Celebrate Godspell (2012) at Rowan College at Burlington County

Pictured: RCBC students Michael Aquilino and Ben Kirvan rehearsing to perform in Godspell (2012)

According to Rowan College at Burlington County Theatre Director Patricia Cohill, “Godspell is a celebration.”

The greater community will have a chance to celebrate with RCBC’s Lamplight Players, a club open to students of all majors, when the troupe performs the 2012 revival of the 1971 original musical.

"Godspell" is based on the Gospel of Matthew, which means, “It’s a lot of Biblical dialogue instead of regular English,” according to Ben Kirvan, who will play Jesus.

“It’s a challenge I’ve enjoyed taking on,” he added.

The Lenape High School graduate plans to enter a career in film, which is similar to stage theater, although not quite the same, he said.

“The biggest difference (between film and theater) is not having an audience to interact with. You’re just by yourself, sometimes with another actor, and the camera,” Kirvan said.

He added that his primary interest in film is “roles that require a person to go beyond limits and change physicality or appearance.”

This interest applies to stage theater as well; Kirvan added that he lost weight for a previous role, and to better represent the character of Jesus in "Godspell," dyed his hair blond.

“It’s not necessary, but it’s not unnecessary,” he said about the change. “When I read through the script for the first time, I realized he’s a very happy, cheerful character.

“The character of Jesus really has control over what’s going on in the show,” he added.

"Godspell" will be Kirvan’s third production with the Lamplight Players. He also been involved with the college’s productions of “Rent” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

The production will be Michael Aquilino’s first with the Lamplight Players, although he has been involved with live theater since middle school.

“This is one of my biggest roles,” he said. “I’ve been in musicals, and I’ve been the lead in plays, but I’ve never really been a lead in the musical. I’m excited to push myself.”

Aquilino will play John the Baptist and Judas in the upcoming production.

“I like how Judas is so close to Jesus, but at the same time it’s ironic how he betrays him at the end,” he said. “It’s fun being a character that’s not necessarily the good character. He listens to Jesus, but sometimes he rebels against him. It’s nice to play both sides.”

This is the second time a production will take place on the college’s Mount Laurel Campus as the community college  continues its transition from Pemberton Township.

“We are very excited to be working in Mount Laurel and look forward to new opportunities that await our students and community members who are looking for new theatrical experiences,” Cohill said.

Opening night for "Godspell" will be April 28 at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances are April 29, May 5 and May 6 at 7:30 p.m., and April 30 at 2 p.m. General admission is $15 and students with a valid RCBC ID are $10. To purchase tickets, visit rcbc.edu/theatre/tickets.

Pictured: Rowan College at Burlington County students Michael Aquilino (left), who will play John the Baptist and Judas, and Ben Kirvan, who will play Jesus, rehearse a scene from the college’s production of Godspell (2012), coming to the Mount Laurel Campus at the end of April. 

This article appeared in the Burlington County Times on Sunday, March 26.