The cast members of Godspell during rehearsals for the stage show at Antonio Banderas’ theatre in the city. / Ñito Salas

New Spanish Godspell opens at Antonio Banderas' Soho Theatre this week

It will be the first production at the theatre in which the Malaga-born actor and director will not be on stage: "It is a sign of success that I'm not needed," he says

FRANCISCO GRIÑAN MALAGA.

Godspell will be the next musical to hit the stage of Malaga's Soho Theatre, opening this week on 3 November. This Broadway production from Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak was first performed back in 1971, but this will be a new version in Spanish. It has been produced to the same high standard as previous shows at the theatre, but there is one big difference this time: Antonio Banderas will not be on stage.

"For me it is a sign of success that I'm not needed," the actor and director said at the presentation of the show, which has been produced by Emilio Aragón of the Estudio Caribe company.

Banderas explained, "The leading role is the figure of Christ, but this is not a religious work; it features the principles of Christianity in a secular way." However, he joked, "If all the members of Malaga's religious brotherhoods come to see the show, there are about 80,000 of them so that will make it an instant hit!"

Godspell, fifty years on

Emilio Aragón has updated this work about the life of Jesus, 50 years after first seeing the original show when it came to Spain and his sister Rita was given a part.

In this latest version, Jesus will be played by Pepe Nufrio and the cast also includes Víctor Ullate Roche, Roko, Angie Fernández and Aaron Cobos, among others. They are all delighted to be taking part in what promises to be another huge success for the Soho Caixabank Theatre, especially Mónica Solaun, a local performer from Malaga who is making her stage debut. She said she felt as if she had won the lottery: "I could never have imagined starting with something like this. I feel really at home here," she said.

For Emilio Aragón, who is about to celebrate his 64th birthday, this has also been "a unique emotional and professional journey, and I have also gained a family of friends from it". An experience in which he said he has also learned from the cast and the technical crew, as well as from Banderas himself.

"There are some important aspects to this project, such as Antonio and me being able to work together. As the saying goes, this is the start of a wonderful friendship," Aragón said, and insisted he didn't mind having had just five hours sleep a night in recent weeks because of the show. Banderas obviously feels the same. "Emilio is one of us now," he said.