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Stars brings the joy with 'Godspell'

If the idea of heading out for a night of live theater fills you with joy, embrace the spirit and head to "Godspell," which opens Friday at Stars Theatre Restaurant. 

"It feels like the right time to do the show," Zachary Gonzalez, who plays Jesus in the show, wrote in an email. "This show is an expression of love, and that is something the world needs more of these days. Not to mention, any opportunity to sing these songs is one worth taking. The music is exceptional."

"Godspell" is based on parables told by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew. In the course of the musical, people gather and, despite their differences, connect through Jesus and his teachings. 

Director Alex Neal said the show is about building a community and finding ways to communicate with each other.

"At the core, it’s about finding the common threads that bind us together and finding ways to love what is unique about each one of us," he wrote in an email.

Gonzalez said he was initially overwhelmed by portraying a revered figure but that he was able to let go of expectations and reminded himself to "just have an open heart and to have fun with it."

Feeling connected to his costars — "a community of some of the most funny, talented and loving humans" — was also essential.

"'Godspell' is not about one singular person," he wrote. "Jesus is not a starring role. This is a show about a community of people. Knowing I get to come to the theatre and have fun with this special group of friends makes the daunting task of being 'Jesus' a lot easier and carefree. It’s all just fun."

The cast includes Ken Burdick, playing Judas as well as John the Baptist, along with Giselle Alaniz, Logan Burdick, Erick Casallas, Ariel Clark, Dominic Demay, Missy Lonsinger, Oliver Love, Jesse Magdaleno, Tessa Ogles, Jacqueline Salazar, Callie Stein-Wayne, Perrin Swanson, Markelle Taylor and Leslie Thompson.

Neal said the story is unique to the actors who are in the production: "They are not just playing a part or character, but are playing a version of themselves to help tell the story and breathe life into the show!"

Both Gonzalez and Neal would like viewers to leave the show more joyously than they came into it and to keep spreading the positivity. 

"I hope audiences leave inspired to do more good in the world, and to have a little more joy and fun," Gonzalez wrote.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.