Erica Alligood (left) and Jenna Fifield, standing, and seated Amanda Muzzin and Liezl Mejia perform in Waiting for God. Photo by Leandro Lara

Teacher’s play an extension of Catholic education

By 
  • June 22, 2012

TORONTO - Liezl Mejia believes everything happens for a reason. She feels it’s important to have faith and always believe God is there for you. And this is the message Mejia, who plays the main character Mary in St. Joseph Secondary School’s musical Waiting for God, hopes audiences will walk away with.

“I’m blessed to have this opportunity because it made me feel that I was a living testimony to God’s existence,” says Mejia, whose character is literally waiting for God to show up at a bus stop after her fiancé dies of cancer. During her wait, she encounters a variety of characters.

Originally performed at the Mississauga school May 30 to June 2, the musical will be performed on a much larger stage on June 26, taking over Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre for an evening.

Written and directed by St. Joseph’s dramatic arts teacher Seamus Kelleher, one of his motivating factors in penning the musical was for students to understand that it’s up to them to find God in the positive things in the world and to have hope tomorrow will be a better day. He also thought it was relevant as so many lives are touched by cancer in some way.

At the end of the play, when Mary is confronted with the view that God never showed up for her, that negative perception is challenged, said Kelleher.

“God did show up,” says Mary. “And God showed up in all the people that I met here today.”

Erica Alligood, who plays the peacekeeper in the musical, said a lot of the cast members’ faith was restored.

“I hope that people see the real message which is to accept other people’s differences… But it’s also about accepting other people no matter what their faith is,” said Alligood.

“It’s a play about God but anyone can come together, despite their faith.”

Amanda Muzzin plays Allison, a physicist whom Mary encounters at the bus stop who waits around to disprove the existence of God. She said it was a strange experience to play someone who wasn’t Catholic.

“It was challenging reaching into that part of me because I believe in God,” said Muzzin.

But she said it was an amazing experience as she was able to see how those who challenge the faith often make false assumptions.

Fatima Butt hopes the message that everyone is to be accepted resonates with the audience. Butt’s Muslim character, Neha, is bullied because of her beliefs. True to reality, Butt is a Muslim herself.

“I felt glad I played this role because there’s so many things happening around the world where Muslims are being mistreated because of an event that happened 10 years ago (the 9/11 attacks on the United States) and I don’t want those misconceptions to take place because they’re not true,” she said, adding it is important to show that one group is not indicative of all Muslims.

Kelleher said the musical illustrates the inclusivity of Catholic education.

“We often get the stigma that we’re exclusive and we’re only focused on one thing,” he said. “But the truth is we have a multicultural, multi-faith and multi-talented cast that are all telling the same story and it’s all very inclusive.

“We need our Catholic education because this is really what we do.”

Tickets cost $20. For more information, see www.mirvish.com/ticketking/shows/waitingforgod.

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