St. Odilia musical showcases cast, community and, this year, a camel

| Josie Bungert for The Catholic Spirit | February 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

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“Come for the camel, stay for the show” is the catchphrase frequently tossed around among the cast of “Two From Galilee,” the musical production St. Odilia Church in Shoreview will put on Feb. 13-15.

The camel, a large and impressive stage prop in this year’s production, reflects the ambitious aims of St. Odilia’s robust musical department. Full of veteran volunteers, the department is preparing for its yearly musical, a huge parish and community undertaking. It takes about a year to create, from planning stages to opening night.

“It is a big commitment for people involved, but it seems like we don’t have a problem finding people,” said Jerry Ruhland, the musical’s production coordinator.

Community builder

In past years, they’ve had casts of more than 100, not including those behind the scenes. The cast this year is smaller, about 40. More than 75 families have been involved in just the last three years, Ruhland said.

For 12 years, Ruhland has been responsible for recruiting and coordinating cast and crew. He said people ask where they are needed and are willing to be put anywhere.

“[It’s a] fascinating parish of so many people that are talented and want to be involved,” he said.

Ruhland has witnessed the growth of the ministry from the first performance more than 24 years ago.

“Some of the greatest things that happen in the musical are just because of the variance of ages on the crew . . . we have crew members that are 75 years old and that are 10,” Ruhland said. “Our pastor, Father [Phillip] Rask, he’s just amazed at what a wonderful community-building ministry it is; [it] builds community across all ages, and that’s kind of the way it’s been the whole time.”

The mission statement of the ministry, “sharing biblical and life-changing stories through theater and song and involving all ages,” outlines this goal. The ministry allows anyone fourth grade and up to be in the cast, and all ages behind the scenes.

The community building is one that takes careful thought and planning, and is possible because of Joanne Kost, who manages publicity. She coordinates table tents and blurbs in the church website and bulletin. Her team also hand-delivers invitations at nearby senior centers, and reaches out to local newspapers, radio stations and other churches.

“I always get the most response from the churches,” she said. “It surprised me when I first started this job.”

Kost indicated an interest in theater on a “time and talent” card she filled out when she joined
St. Odilia. Within a month, she was called to work with the production and has ever since. Kost has done costumes, been house manager, helped with ticket sales and directed four shows — including the parish’s first staging of “Two From Galilee” 10 years ago.

“[It’s a] really great way for me to get to know the parish [and] parishioners,” she said. “The whole theater, musical community, sort of embraces you.”

If you go“Two from Galilee”

Where: St. Odilia Church
3495 N. Victoria St., Shoreview

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 13;
1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 14 (dinner theater option with evening performance); 3 p.m. Feb. 15

Cost: $12 adults, $8 children, students and seniors

For tickets or more information, call (651) 415-3367

Opportunity to use gifts

As one of the authors of the camel catchphrase, Kost is fascinated with what the musical brings out of people.

“It’s such a unique opportunity to use our gifts . . . and I think that’s what so many people are so joyful about,” she said. “There is a high level of performance: Singing is excellent, music is exceptional.”

John Dyer, this year’s director, emphasizes the overall quality of St. Odilia’s music ministry; it compelled him and his wife to join St. Odilia years ago.

“We loved the music and were hooked from the get-go,” he said of the first Mass they attended at the parish.

Dyer and his family have been involved in the musical ministry for more than 20 years. He has directed three other productions, including one he wrote himself titled “Church Musical.” He’s excited to direct “Two From Galilee.”

“I’ve really always loved the production, loved the music,” Dyer said. “The music is what makes the show, more than any other I’ve directed.”

Perfect for Valentine’s Day weekend, the musical is about Mary and Joseph as a couple. Dyer enjoys the “deeper dive” into their experience.

“There’s a lot of things that were going on that were quite interesting, quite dramatic,” he said. “[It’s] a new look on an old story.”

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