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Barton Natural Gas student rocks the mic in Barton Theatre spring musical
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Godspell cast member and Barton Natural Gas Student James Mayes is on track to graduate with his Associates in Applied Science degree in the fall of 2015.

Barton Natural Gas student James Mayes, 29,  is knee-deep in his coursework to become a member of the natural gas industry, but he has always had the desire to be on stage. He found a way to do both and is a cast-member for the upcoming Barton Community College Theatre Spring Musical “Godspell,” which opens Thursday at the college’s Fine Arts Auditorium.  The musical is at 7:30 p.m. March 5, 6, 7 and at 2 p.m. March 8.
Mayes performed in a “Christmas Carol” as Bob Cratchit this fall and had experience in theater in high school.
“I’ve always had a joy for performing and doing music,” Mayes said.  “I used to be in a rock band back in the day as well, and I just love to perform.”
The musical is based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew.  A small group of people help Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques, and hefty a dose of comic timing.
Mayes said the production is very unique.
“It pretty much runs the full gamut of emotions,” he said.  “The majority of it is very upbeat, and it’s very comical and fast-paced.  It’s a high-energy show with a lot of dancing and a broad variety of different musical styles including, rock & roll and jazz, to blues and vaudeville.  The parables are presented in a comedic way, and it’s funny and lighthearted, but still gets down to the seriousness of the life of Jesus Christ and the crucifixion, so there are some serious and emotional notes to it.”
Barton Theatre Director Erin Renard said this musical has something for everyone.
“You don’t have to be religious to enjoy the show, even though it tells a religious story,” she said.  “These messages are universal and are ones that we need to be reminded of as we go about in our crazy lives.”
Renard said Mayes has been a productive member of the cast.
“He really enjoys singing and he brings his experience and knowledge about the Bible and he’s very creative,” Renard said. “I’m really more of a facilitator.  The cast came up with many of the ways to tell these parables and James has contributed a lot to that.”
Mayes has been enjoying his time in the spotlight and is thankful he has been able to participate while also focusing on his education.  His educational path has not been as linear as most, but that’s not stopping him.  The non-traditional student has three kids and is on a mission to make life better for his family.
“After high school, I’ve just always just been a laborer in construction, remodeling and the oil field – pretty much everything Kansas has to offer in manual labor,” he said.  “I just decided to try and use my brain instead of my back for once in my life and earn a better living for my kids.  To just really try to make a career instead of my job and find something I enjoy doing.”
Godspell was conceived and originally directed by John Michael Tebelak with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.  It was originally produced on the New York Stage by Edgar Lansbury, Stuart Duncan and Joseph Beruh.
Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for non-students. Tickets can be purchased online at  For more information, contact Barton Theatre Director Erin Renard at or 620-786-1187.  Order tickets online at or call the Barton Box Office, 620-786-1150.