Rounding out the cast is the Belleville Church’s own reverend, Ross Varney, who, interestingly enough, plays Democritus, the nonbeliever.
“Part of every faith is the little bits of doubt,” Varney said. “Being OK with questions.”
Although he spends most of his time in front of his congregation, this production only marks Varney’s third time onstage after a not-so-stellar performance during his junior year of high school. But he jokes that he left them wanting more as Hansel in his third-grade production of “Hansel and Gretel.”
“I get to ad-lib and use my own words and my own expressions,” Varney said of his ministerial life. “Acting, I’ve discovered, is a little bit more exacting, even though I still hope to have a little bit of freedom with a few lines. I’m onstage for five minutes, but it’s a little more difficult than what I imagined.”
Faith and doubt are different sides of the same coin, Varney said, and he is enjoying the opportunity to work alongside Smulowitz, who is a Jewish chaplain.
“She and I are totally interfaith-oriented,” Varney said. “We’ve had some wonderful little sidebars outside of this experience, too. We’ve had some wonderful conversations.”
With all the different faiths and hometown affiliations commingling, differences may come up, but everyone is united in making sure the show must go on.
“They are singing with all their heart and soul,” Smulowitz said of her cast. “It’s not about what town you come from. What they have in common is their love of the arts and theater, and that creates instant community.
“The ability to sing, dance and act is an incredible gift to give to yourself and to others.”
If you go
What: “The Littlest Angel”
When: Tomorrow at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: Belleville Congregational Church, 300 High St., Newburyport
How much: $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. Tickets available at the door and online at ww1.mktix.com. Part of the proceeds benefit the church’s programs and charitable work.
More information: 978-502-8468