THE CHANCEL PLAYERS
The Chancel Players was founded in 2016 by First Congregational Church, Gay Street United Methodist Church and Right Brain Productions. The goal of the group is for faith communities to connect youth and community through the performing arts. The hope behind this ministry is to provide family oriented theatre experiences for cast, crew and audience members. Wholesome theatre productions, emphasizing messages suitable for all ages are put together and performed.
In the spring of 2017 we produced our first play, the Broadway musical Godspell. The production was very well received and provided an inspiring and powerful beginning to this new ministry. For more information on The Chancel Players please read the notes below these photos of Godspell:
A BROADWAY MUSICAL BASED ON THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW performed March 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 April 1, 2, 2017
WHO WE ARE: The Chancel Players was founded in 2016 by First Congregational Church, Gay Street Methodist Church and Right Brain Productions. The goal is for faith communities to connect youth and community through the performing arts! The hope behind this ministry is to provide family oriented theatre experiences for cast, crew and audience members. Wholesome theatre productions, emphasizing messages suitable for all ages would be put together and performed.
We are starting out with the production of Godspell, a musical based on the Gospel of Matthew with inspiring music by Stephen Schwartz, and a very clever, fun and powerful book by John-Michael Tebelak. This production was provided through licensing with Theatre Maximus and was performed March 23, 24,25, 26, 30, 31 and April 1 & 2, 2017 on the chancel at Gay Street United Methodist Church in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The cast and crew in our productions is a mix of adults and youth from throughout the community. The presence of adults is to provide in-cast teachers and positive role models for the youth, as well as to legitimize the production as “real” theatre in the eyes of the audience. More importantly, the presence of youth and adults is to provide the opportunity for family and community members to work and play together outside the home and become connected in ways that plays do so well for the cast, crew and audience members.
WHAT WE PLAN TO PROVIDE: The Chancel Players is expected to provide the following:
- Quality family friendly theatre productions for the local community and visitors to the area
- A place for families to share joy and accomplishment as active participants in theatre productions
- Local youth with opportunities to last a life time while developing the confidence and discipline that comes with participating in, and completing a theatre production
- Local youth a safe place to interact positively with adult community members and to feel appreciation and support for their work and ideas
- Local youth and the community with exposure to the theatre arts and the rich cultural values and experiences such exposure provides
- The community with exposure to youth in positive settings and to show appreciation and support for local youth
- Alternative after school choices to local youth and their families
- Out reach and opportunities for the at risk youth of our community
The impact on the community includes the provision of the expected outcomes set out above, as well as filling the need in the greater Mount Vernon area for positive activities for our youth, and positive interaction between the youth and the community. We hope to be a positive place for our youth to belong, to have fun, to imagine and create, to dare to do new things, to interact with adults, to learn and grow, to work to give to the community and to receive positive responses from the community.
The Chancel Players gives opportunities for families to work together and for youth to shine on stage while entertaining folks of all ages in the process. While we have no plans to provide scripted doctrinal messages about life, or religion, or spirituality; we do want the youth to receive one over-riding message: that there is a lot of good in the world and a lot of people who care about them. It is our intent and hope that our actions will not only provide theatre skills and experiences, but give clear resounding messages of love and compassion, of respect and charity, of hope and joy, and of community commitment to positive growth in all of us. We plan to prayerfully and carefully do this by providing community family theatre experiences on and off stage, and of course on stage for audiences.
The youth receive from their participation in the theatre productions a myriad of experiences. Acting requires a great amount of discipline to memorize, rehearse and stick with all of the work that is needed to perform a piece. It makes the actor search her soul for not only an understanding of the written word that forms the literature of a play, but for an understanding of life, and how to breath that life into a character; using whatever she has within and is willing to explore–and then expose. It truly develops character on many levels, and keeps the imagination exercised and in great shape in a day and age where our imaginations are exercised less and less. Actors must learn to articulate words and thoughts. Performers cannot help but learn about different cultures, different fortunes, great literature and other times and other places. Actors learn to better understand emotions and to some extent control them. Actors create on their own, but also must work as a team with others in very emotional settings developing a united work of art. Acting, of course, also requires summoning up great mounds of confidence to speak before crowds.
Theatre is otherwise unique among the arts because it actually often includes all the arts: writing, painting, poetry, sculpture and many times music. This allows participation by youth with varied talents and skills, not just those interested in performing.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about theatre is that when everything is just right the actors and the ensemble can move people in such a profound way both audience and performers remember the act for life.
The blessing we strive to prayerfully be a part of is to give to the community through the arts not only giving youth the opportunities stated above, but to bring the joy of staged live stories to other youth and adults in the community.
For more information on our partnering entities:
First Congregational United Church of Christ: http://www.mvucc.org/ or find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mvucc/?ref=bookmarks
Gay Street United Methodist Church: http://gaystreetumc.org/ or find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Gay-Street-United-Methodist-Church-111709705532454/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf
Right Brain Productions: http://www.rightbrainarts.com/
The cast and crew of Godspell included:
Nick Wheeler as Jesus; Megan Evans as John the Baptist/Judas; and Kate Ernsberger,Tami Anderson, Cliff Davis; Quinn Bartsch, Megan Campbell, Destany Stoneburner, Joselyn Bates, Luna Moreland and Mark Mahan as the disciples. Scott Elliott is directing the play and has an excellent crew working with him including Joe Bell, Charlotte Watson, Marty Bell, Megan Evans, Mary Kepple, Megan Bell and Leslie Bell.
A note about the director: Godspell’s director, Rev. Scott Elliott, is new to the stage in the area, but not to theatre. Scott has been involved in theatre for over 40 years. He has a B.A. in drama, a year of graduate theatre work and teaching fellowship and many years of acting and directing experience. Scott takes a disciplined and classical approach to acting and directing, but his casts also have a lot of fun. Teens involved in Scott’s shows typically laugh, learn a lot, perform well, and find his approach very helpful in subsequent productions. (To give an idea of the positive influence of Scott’s work in past theatre ministries, see the comments below for some reflections by adults and youth.). You may also check out Scott’s sermon on our first production of Godspell which can be found on line on video ( at https://vimeo.com/211214066) and in manuscript form (at http://www.mvucc.org/the-gospel-in-our-godspell-2/)
Scott on the set of a production of Romeo and Juliet