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''Godspell'' is a
musical Musical is the adjective of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), ...
composed by Stephen Schwartz with the
book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of v ...
by
John-Michael Tebelak John-Michael Tebelak (September 17, 1949 – April 2, 1985) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of ...

John-Michael Tebelak
. The show opened
off-Broadway An off-Broadway theatre is any professional theatre venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity Seating capacity is the number of people A people is any plurality of persons considered as a whole. Used in politics and l ...
on May 17, 1971, and has since been produced by multiple touring companies and in many revivals. The 2011 revival played on
Broadway Broadway may refer to: Theatre * Broadway Theatre (disambiguation) * Broadway theatre, theatrical productions in professional theatres near Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, U.S. ** Broadway (Manhattan), the street **Broadway Theatre (53rd Str ...
from October 13, 2011, through June 24, 2012. The musical is structured as a series of
parable A parable is a succinct, Didacticism, didactic story, in prose or Verse (poetry), verse, that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces ...
s, primarily based on the
Gospel of Matthew The Gospel according to Matthew ( el, Κατὰ Ματθαῖον Εὐαγγέλιον, translit=Katà Matthaîon Euangélion), also called the Gospel of Matthew, or simply Matthew, is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three s ...
. The parables are interspersed with music set primarily to lyrics from traditional
hymn A hymn is a type of song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create ...

hymn
s, with the
passion of Christ In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religi ...

passion of Christ
appearing briefly near the end of the show. ''Godspell'' began as a project by drama students at
Carnegie Mellon University Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence ...
and then moved to the
off-off-Broadway Off-off-Broadway theaters are smaller New York City theaters than Broadway Broadway may refer to: Theatre * Broadway Theatre (disambiguation) * Broadway theatre, theatrical productions in professional theatres near Broadway, Manhattan, New Yo ...
theater
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (La MaMa E.T.C.) is an Off-Off-Broadway Off-off-Broadway theaters are smaller New York City theaters than Broadway Broadway may refer to: Theatre * Broadway Theatre (disambiguation) * Broadway theatre, the ...
in the East Village of Manhattan. The show was then rescored for an off-Broadway production, which became a long-running success. An abbreviated one-act version of the musical designed for performers aged 18 and under also exists, titled ''Godspell Junior''. Several
cast album A cast recording is a recording of a stage musical Musical is the adjective of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General i ...
s have been released over the years. " Day by Day", from the original cast album, reached #13 on the ''
Billboard A billboard (also called a hoarding in the UK and many other parts of the world) is a large outdoor advertising Out-of-home (OOH) advertising, also called outdoor advertising, outdoor media, and out-of-home media, is advertising experienced ...
''
pop singles chart The ''Billboard'' Hot 100 is the music industry The music industry consists of the companies and independent artists that earn money by creating new songs and pieces and arranging live concerts and shows, audio and video recordings, comp ...
in the summer of 1972.


Characters

The show features eight non- Biblical characters, who sing and act out the parables: Gilmer (silly, a great storyteller); Robin (a tomboy); Herb (goofy and entertaining); Jeffrey (happy and excited); Joanne (eager and enthusiastic); Lamar (clumsy and unintentionally funny); Peggy (shy and loyal); and Sonia (dramatic with a put-on sensuality). In the original script, licensed through Theatre Maximus, the "Christ" character and the "John" and "Judas" role are assigned the names of the original performers, Stephen and David. In the revised script used for the 2011 Broadway revival, the names of the cast are again assigned to the non-Biblical roles: Nick, Telly, George, Anna Maria, Lindsay, Uzo, Morgan, and Celisse. Each character is also assigned a few character traits. An ensemble can also be added to the production if needed. All ten actors are on stage throughout the entirety of the production.


Synopsis


Act I

The show opens with
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
's voice, as spoken by
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
, declaring his supremacy: "My name is Known: God and King. I am most in majesty, in whom no beginning may be and no end." ("Opening (Monologue)"). The cast then enters and takes the roles of various
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mi ...

philosopher
s who sing their philosophies, first alone, then in cacophonous
counterpoint In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated co ...

counterpoint
("Prologue: Tower of Babble"). In response,
John the Baptist John the Baptist ''Yohanān HaMatbil''; la, Ioannes Baptista; grc-gre, Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, ''Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs'' or , ''Iōánnēs ho baptízōn'', or , ''Iōánnēs ho pródromos'';Wetterau, Bruce. ''World history' ...

John the Baptist
enters blowing a
shofar A shofar ( ; from he, שׁוֹפָר, ) is an ancient musical Horn (instrument), horn typically made of a Ram (sheep), ram's horn (anatomy), horn, used for Judaism, Jewish religious purposes. Like the modern bugle, the shofar lacks pitch (mus ...

shofar
to call the community to order. He then beckons them to "Prepare Ye, The Way of the Lord!" and baptizes the cast ("Prepare Ye"). John gives a short sermon, as
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
watches quietly. Jesus then announces his presence and says that he also wishes to be baptized. John instead asks to be baptized by Jesus. Jesus explains that "We do well now to conform with all that God requires" and is baptized by John. The cast enters and sings with Jesus ("Save the People"). In his first
parable A parable is a succinct, Didacticism, didactic story, in prose or Verse (poetry), verse, that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces ...
, Jesus explains that he has come "not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to complete." Jesus explains to the cast that those who adhere to the law of God will earn the highest place in the Kingdom of Heaven. He tells them the parable of the Widow and the Judge, demonstrating that God is a just jurist who will support those who cry out to him. The cast begins to understand Jesus' teachings and take it upon themselves to tell the story of the
Pharisee and the Publican The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (or the ''Pharisee and the Tax Collector'') is a parable of Jesus that appears in the Gospel of Luke The Gospel according to Luke ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν , translit=Euan ...
praying in the temple: "Every man who humbles himself shall be exalted!" As Jesus teaches the law of the offering gifts at the altar, the cast makes offerings of themselves. They are taught that to approach God's altar, they must be pure of heart and soul. They then act out the
Parable of the Unforgiving Servant The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (also known as ''Ungrateful Servant'', ''Unmerciful Servant'', or ''Wicked Servant'' but not to be confused with the parable of the Two Debtors) is a parable of Jesus which appears in the Gospel of Matthew ...
a story of a master and a servant who owes him a debt. The servant asks his master for pity in repaying the debt, and the master absolves it. The servant then turns to a fellow servant who "owed him a few dollars" and demands that it be paid in full. The master, hearing this, then condemns the servant to prison. Jesus explains the moral: "Forgive your brothers from your heart." The character telling the parable sings "Day by Day", and the cast joins in. After the song, Jesus teaches that if one part of you offends God, it is better to lose it than to have the whole of the body thrown into hell. The cast then plays
charades Charades (, ). is a parlor A parlour (or parlor) is a reception room; part of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, Scotland A drawing room is a room (architecture), room in a house where visitors may be entertained, and a historical term for ...

charades
to finish several statements posed by Jesus, including "If a man sues you for your shirt..." and "If a man asks you to go one mile with him...." The cast then performs the
Parable of the Good Samaritan The parable of the Good Samaritan is told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke The Gospel according to Luke ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν , translit=Euangélion katà Loukân), also called the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, t ...
as a play-within-a-play. Jesus explains the need to "love your enemies" and "not make a show of religion before men". He says: "God will reward a good deed done in secret" ("Shhh! It's a secret!"). The cast then performs the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. On earth, the rich man feasts, and Lazarus begs and is ignored. Upon dying, Lazarus is rewarded with Heaven, while the rich man is in Hell. The audience is told to "Learn Your Lessons Well" or be faced with eternal damnation. When the rich man asks Abraham if he would send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers of their impending doom, Abraham tells him no: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead." Jesus teaches that no man can serve two masters (God and money). A member of the cast tells a story of a man who spent a lifetime acquiring the good things in life, then dies before he has the time to enjoy them. This character sings "Bless the Lord," then Jesus tells the cast not to worry about tomorrow: "Tomorrow will take care of itself. Today has problems of its own." In an
antiphon An antiphon (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximate ...
ic chorus, the cast recites the
Beatitudes The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, '' Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish ...
. Judas directs the final beatitude regarding persecution at Jesus, and Jesus quickly changes the subject ("Did I ever tell you that I used to read feet?"). However, Jesus then persuades the cast that it is "All for the Best" and heaven contains the ultimate reward as Jesus and Judas do a soft shoe together. This is followed by the parable of the Sower of the Seeds, which Jesus tells them represent the Word of God ("All Good Gifts"). By this point in the musical, the group has transformed from a rag-tag cast, into a community of love and caring and now march as soldiers in the military, signifying their ability to think as one. With Jesus as the drill sergeant, they perform the
Parable of the Prodigal Son The Parable of the Prodigal Son (also known as the parable of the Two Brothers, Lost Son, Loving Father, or of the Forgiving Father) is one of the parables of Jesus The parables of Jesus are found in the Synoptic Gospel The gospels of Gospe ...
. The cast sings "Light of the World" about Christ's Light and how it shines in each person.


Intermission

Jesus thanks the audience for coming and announces a 10-minute
intermission An intermission, also known as an interval in British and Indian English, is a recess between parts of a performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also defined as the ...

intermission
. There is audience interaction during intermission. In the original production, the cast joined the audience for wine and bread. In the 2011 Broadway revival, the audience was offered wine on the stage. The second act then opens with one or more cast members singing "Learn Your Lessons Well", calling the audience back to their seats.


Act II

After the reprise of "Learn Your Lessons Well", a member of the cast sings "Turn Back, O Man", imploring mankind to give up its temporal pursuits and turn to God. Jesus then says: "This is the beginning." Several members of the cast then begin to question Jesus's authority, and he responds with yet another parable. He is asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" and responds, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul... And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" The
Pharisees The Pharisees (; Hebrew: ''Pərūšīm'') were a social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70), destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic belie ...
continue to question him, and he laments "Alas for You" and calls them hypocrites. Members of the cast gather, join in Jesus' song, and throw garbage at the Pharisees. Jesus predicts that he will not be seen for quite a while, while standing at the "
Wailing Wall
Wailing Wall
", and predicts great wars and famines. He reminds the cast and audience of the time of
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions, Noah ''Nukh''; am, ኖህ, ''Noḥ''; ar, نُوح '; grc, Νῶε ''Nôe'' () features as the tenth and last of the Antediluvian , pre-Flood Patriarchs (Bible), patriarchs. His story appears in the ...

Noah
and teaches that faith can calm the storm. The cast is told: "Keep awake, then. For the Son of Man will come at a time when you least expect it." One woman in the cast is shunned as an
adulteress
adulteress
. Jesus says: "Let the one of you who is faultless cast the first stone." Her accusers then bow their heads and walk away. Jesus walks over to her and asks: "Woman... where are they now? Has no one condemned you?" The woman answers: "No one, sir." He tells her: "Then nor shall I. You may go, but do not sin again." As she watches Jesus walk from her, she entreats him to remain "By My Side". During this song, Judas foretells his upcoming betrayal of Jesus. In one of the lighter moments in the second act, Jesus tells how he will separate men as a shepherd separates his flock into
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...
and
goat The domestic goat or simply goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of typically kept as . It was from the (''C. aegagrus'') of and . The goat is a member of the animal family and the subfamily , meaning it is closely related ...

goat
s. The sheep will enter heaven while the goats must suffer eternal damnation. "We Beseech Thee" cry the goats, begging for mercy. After the song, the cast reminds each other to take things "Day By Day", as they remove their clown makeup, face paint, or object. They assemble for the
Last Supper Image:The Last Supper - Leonardo Da Vinci - High Resolution 32x16.jpg, 500px, alt=''The Last Supper'' by Leonardo da Vinci - Clickable Image, Depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art have been undertaken by artistic masters for centuries, ...

Last Supper
and Jesus tells them that one of them will betray him. Each member of the cast asks, "Is it I?" ending with Judas: "Rabbi... can you mean me?" Jesus tells him to do quickly what he must do and Judas runs off. Jesus breaks the bread and shares the wine, while saying the traditional Hebrew Seder blessings. He tells his followers that they will dine together in the Kingdom of Heaven. The band sings "On the Willows", which is about what has been sacrificed. In the song, Jesus says goodbye to the cast. He asks that they wait for him as he goes into the
Garden of Gethsemane Gethsemane () is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem where, according to the four Gospels of the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum ...

Garden of Gethsemane
to pray. In the garden, Jesus implores God to let the burden be lifted from his shoulders if there is another way. Jesus returns to his followers to find them all asleep. He begs them to stay awake, but they all fall asleep again and Jesus warns them they will all betray him three times (a reference to the apostle
Peter Peter may refer to: People * List of people named Peter, a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * Peter (given name) ** Saint Peter (died 60s), apostle of Jesus, leader of the early Christian Church * Peter (surname), a sur ...
). Jesus then prays to God that if his death cannot pass him by, then His will must be done. He is then tempted by
Satan Satan, (''śāṭān''), meaning "adversary"; grc, ὁ σατανᾶς or σατάν (''ho satanas'' or ''satan''); ar, شيطان (''shaitan''), meaning "astray", "distant", or sometimes "devil" also known as the Devil, is an entity in th ...

Satan
(usually played by the apostles), but orders him away. Judas returns to betray Jesus, but has a moment where he cannot bring himself to do it. He tries to leave but finds himself boxed in by invisible walls, except for one path which leads to Jesus. Jesus encourages Judas to do what he has come to do, and Judas grabs Jesus to bring him to be
crucified Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the ...

crucified
. The community starts to attack Judas, while Jesus tells them to stop, as all who live by the sword will one day die by it. Judas (usually alone, as a representation of the others arresting Jesus) ties Jesus upon an electric fence (representative of the cross) as Jesus berates him for arresting him at night, but then says that it had to happen to fulfill the prophets' writings. The "Finale" begins, loud and in B-minor, with Jesus wailing, "Oh, God, I'm bleeding," and the community answers: "Oh, God, You're bleeding." Jesus dies and the music ends. The women of the cast sing "Long Live God", and the men join in with "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" in counterpoint. The cast removes Jesus from the fence and carries him out, either offstage or through the aisles. The cast then finishes with a reprise of "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord".


Ending interpretation

Similar to criticism of the 1970 rock opera ''
Jesus Christ Superstar ''Jesus Christ Superstar'' is a sung-through The adjective In linguistics, an adjective (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that grammatical modifier, modifies a noun or noun phrase or describes its referent. Its Sema ...

Jesus Christ Superstar
'' there is controversy over there being no obvious allusion to the
Resurrection of Jesus The resurrection of Jesus ( gr, ανάσταση του Ιησού) is the Christianity, Christian belief that God in Christianity, God Resurrection, raised Jesus on the third day after Crucifixion of Jesus, his crucifixion, starting – or Pr ...
in the show. It can be interpreted that either the singing of "Prepare Ye" in the finale or the curtain call, where all including Jesus return to the stage, represents the resurrection. The
Music Theatre International Music Theatre International (MTI) is a theatrical licensing agency based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an ...
script states that either representation is valid.


Musical numbers


Off-Broadway production

;Act I *Tower of Babble – Company *Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord – David and Company *Save the People – Stephen and Company *Day by Day – Robin and Company *Learn Your Lessons Well – Gilmer *Bless the Lord – Joanne and Company *All for the Best – Stephen and David *All Good Gifts – Lamar and Company *Light of the World – Herb and Company ;Act II *Learn Your Lessons Well (Reprise) – Lamar and Company *Turn Back, O Man – Sonia and Company *Alas for You – Stephen *By My Side – Peggy and Company *We Beseech Thee – Jeffrey and Company *On the Willows – Band *Finale – Company


2011 Broadway revival

;Act I *Tower of Babble – cast *Prepare Ye – John the Baptist and cast *Save the People – Jesus and cast *Day by Day – Anna Marie and cast *Learn Your Lessons Well – Celisse and cast *Bless the Lord – Lindsay and cast *All for the Best – Jesus, Judas and cast *All Good Gifts – Telly and cast *Light of the World – George and cast ;Act II *Turn Back, O Man – Morgan, Jesus, and cast *Alas for You – Jesus *By My Side – Uzo and cast *We Beseech Thee – Nick and cast *Beautiful City – Jesus *On the Willows- Judas and the Band (or ensemble) *Finale – Jesus and cast


Tower of Babble

"Tower of Babble," the show's opening number, is often omitted by many productions. The song consists of the eight disciples (or soloists) acting out as philosophers, each singing about their various philosophies. They grow increasingly more irritated with each other, sing in contradiction, and eventually run out of words. "Prepare Ye" follows this prologue. In the original productions, the philosophers were
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

Socrates
(
Jeffrey Mylett Jeffrey Mylett (June 8, 1949 – May 7, 1986) was an United States, American actor and songwriter. He was best known for his roles in both the stage and film productions of ''Godspell''. Personal life Mylett was born in North Canton, Ohio. He a ...
),
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar, Philosophy, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential ...

Thomas Aquinas
( Peggy Gordon),
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citiz ...

Martin Luther
(Lamar Alford),
Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (15 April 14522 May 1519) was an Italian of the who was active as a painter, , engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he als ...

Leonardo da Vinci
( Gilmer McCormick),
Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon (; 8 May 173716 January 1794) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval En ...

Edward Gibbon
(
Sonia Manzano Sonia Manzano (born June 12, 1950) is an American actress, screenwriter, author, speaker and singer-songwriter. She is best known for playing Maria on ''Sesame Street ''Sesame Street'' is an American educational children's television Ch ...
),
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as tho ...

Jean-Paul Sartre
(Joanne Jonas),
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as thos ...

Friedrich Nietzsche
(Robin Lamont), and
Buckminster Fuller Richard Buckminster Fuller (; July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. He styled his name as R. Buckminster Fuller in his writings, publishing more than 30 book ...
(Herb Braha). In the 2001 revival, Luther, Gibbon, Nietzsche, and Fuller were replaced by
Galileo Galilei Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei ( , ; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), commonly referred to as Galileo, was an astronomer An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific q ...

Galileo Galilei
, Jonathan Edwards,
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard
, and
Marianne Williamson Marianne Deborah Williamson (born July 8, 1952) is an American author, spiritual leader, and political activist. She has written 13 books, including four ''New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American dai ...
, respectively. The 2011 revival retains Galilei, Hubbard, and Williamson, but restores Gibbon and replaces da Vinci with
Georg Hegel Georg may refer to: * ''Georg'' (film), 1997 *Georg (musical) Georg may refer to: * ''Georg'' (film), 1997 *Georg (musical) Georg may refer to: * ''Georg'' (film), 1997 *Georg (musical) Georg may refer to: * Georg (film), ''Georg'' (film), ...
. On many early cast recordings, including the original off-Broadway recording and the original London recording, the prologue was omitted in order to produce an album that could sell as a pop album. This omission was for marketing purposes and was not meant to diminish the importance of the number, as Stephen Schwartz has repeatedly stated. As a consequence, some audiences have gotten the impression that this number was added into the score later.


Beautiful City

"Beautiful City" was written in 1972 as part of the film and re-written in 1993 after the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. In the film, it follows "Alas for You" and "By My Side", omitting the parable typically found in between these two numbers. In the decades following the film's release, many directors have chosen to use the lyrics from the original film version, sometimes to replace the "Day by Day" reprise, "Tower of Babble", like the prologue, or adding it the end of the musical as an additional scene depicting the Resurrection. The 2011 Broadway revival places "Beautiful City" after "We Beseech Thee" and just before the Last Supper, sung by Jesus as a slow ballad. This production used the revised 1993 lyrics and is included on its cast recording, along with a cover by John Ondrasik of
Five For Fighting Vladimir John Ondrasik III (born January 7, 1965), known by his stage name Five for Fighting, is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, record producer, and philanthropist. He is best known for his piano-based soft rock ballads, such as the to ...
as a bonus track. Some productions use both the original upbeat film version as a prologue as well as the ballad version, either in its original place just before the Last Supper whereupon the Day By Day reprise is used as the Resurrection, or as an epilogue depicting the resurrection itself. In Music Theater International's Broadway Junior series, which edits popular musicals to one act appropriate for a middle school cast, "Beautiful City" is included in the show. ''Godspell Junior'' contains most of the first act and almost none of the second act. "By My Side" is omitted entirely. "Beautiful City" is placed at the beginning of the second act and is immediately followed by the Last Supper, the Betrayal, and the Crucifixion.


Production history


1970: Carnegie Mellon University

John-Michael Tebelak wrote the first version of ''Godspell'' as his
master's thesis A thesis or dissertation (abbreviated diss.) is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.International Standard International Organizatio ...
at Carnegie Mellon University. The Carnegie Mellon cast included (listed in speaking order): Andrew Rohrer, Mary Mazziotti, Martha Jacobs, Robin Lamont, Robert Miller,
Sonia Manzano Sonia Manzano (born June 12, 1950) is an American actress, screenwriter, author, speaker and singer-songwriter. She is best known for playing Maria on ''Sesame Street ''Sesame Street'' is an American educational children's television Ch ...
, Stanley King, Randy Danson, James Stevens, and
David Haskell David Michael Haskell (June 4, 1948 – August 30, 2000) was an American film, stage and television actor and singer best known for his performance in Godspell. Early life He was born in Stockton, California Stockton is a city and the ...
with original music by Duane Bolick. This version was performed at Carnegie Mellon in 1970 by students from Carnegie Mellon's Theatre Department.


1971: La MaMa and off-Broadway

The show was then brought to the attention of producers Edgar Lansbury (brother of
Angela Lansbury Angela may refer to: * Angela (given name) ''Angela'' is a female given name. The origin of the name is Latin and its background is Christian. It is derived from the Greek language, Greek word ''ángelos'' (ἄγγελος), meaning angel or "mess ...

Angela Lansbury
), Joseph Beruh, and Stuart Duncan by Carnegie Mellon alumnus and associate producer
Charles Haid Charles Maurice Haid III (born June 2, 1943) is an American actor and television director, with notable work in both movies and television. He is best known for his portrayal of Officer Andy Renko in '' Hill Street Blues''. Haid was born in San ...
, who wanted to transfer the show to off-Broadway. The show was first produced at La Mama as a play with original music for eight songs by Duane Bolick, Jeffrey Mylett, who added one of his songs ("The Raven and The Swan") and Peggy Gordon and Jay Hamburger, who added "By My Side". The producers then hired Stephen Schwartz, another Carnegie Mellon alumnus, to re-score the show. Schwartz's score incorporated a variety of
musical genres This is a list of music genres and styles. Music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General defini ...
, including
pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
,
folk rock Folk rock is a hybrid music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, a ...
,
gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel#REDIRECT The gospel In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Te ...
, and
vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a of born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a dramatic composition or light poetry, mixed with songs or b ...
. "By My Side", written by Carnegie Mellon students Jay Hamburger and Peggy Gordon, was kept from the original score. As in the original score, most of the lyrics not written by Schwartz were from the Episcopal
hymnal A hymnal or hymnary is a collection of hymn A hymn is a type of song, usually religious and partially coincident with devotional song, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deitie ...
. The show opened as a musical at the
Cherry Lane Theatre The Cherry Lane Theatre is the city's oldest continuously running off-Broadway An off-Broadway theatre is any professional theatre venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity Seating capacity is the number of people A ...
on May 17, 1971. It transferred to the Promenade Theatre three months later, and closed on June 13, 1976, after 2,124 performances at the Promenade. This production was directed by Tebelak, and the original cast included
Lamar Alford Lamar Alford (October 11, 1944 - March 29, 1991) was an American actor An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance (also actress; #The term actress, see below). The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium o ...
, Peggy Gordon,
David Haskell David Michael Haskell (June 4, 1948 – August 30, 2000) was an American film, stage and television actor and singer best known for his performance in Godspell. Early life He was born in Stockton, California Stockton is a city and the ...
, Joanne Jonas, Robin Lamont,
Sonia Manzano Sonia Manzano (born June 12, 1950) is an American actress, screenwriter, author, speaker and singer-songwriter. She is best known for playing Maria on ''Sesame Street ''Sesame Street'' is an American educational children's television Ch ...
, Gilmer McCormick,
Jeffrey Mylett Jeffrey Mylett (June 8, 1949 – May 7, 1986) was an United States, American actor and songwriter. He was best known for his roles in both the stage and film productions of ''Godspell''. Personal life Mylett was born in North Canton, Ohio. He a ...
, Stephen Nathan, and Herb Braha (Simon)."''Godspell'', 1971–1976"
Internet Off-Broadway Database The Lortel Archives, also known as the Internet Off-Broadway Database (IOBDB), is an online database that catalogues theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or ...
. Accessed October 2, 2011.
The band included Jesse Cutler on guitar and bass, Richard LaBonte on bass, Stephen Reinhardt on keyboards, and Ricky Shutter on drums and percussion. In late 1971, LaBonte was replaced by bassist Steve Manes when two of the original musicians, Shutter and LaBonte, went with the majority of the original cast to The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles to open the show there. With the exception of LaBonte, they all returned to the Promenade in January 1972.


1971: Melbourne, Australia

The first production after the off-Broadway show opened at the Playbox Theatre in
Melbourne, Australia Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne, Australia
on November 15, 1971. The cast included
Colleen Hewett Colleen Hewett (born 16 April 1950) is an Australian theatre and TV actress, and a popular singer and recording artist Her top 40 singles on the Kent Music Report include "Superstar (Delaney and Bonnie song), Super Star", "Day by Day (God ...
, Collette Mann, Christopher Pate, and George Spartels. The producers, Aztec Services and Williamson Edgley Theatres, opened a second production in
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
on April 10, 1972.
Peta Toppano Peta Toppano (born Peita Margaret Toppano; 1951)GRO Birth Index EnglandLawson, Valerie. , ''Sydney Morning Herald'' (13 December 2003): "They fell in love and married in 1950 in a church at Golders Green, London. Their daughter, Peta, was born a ...
,
John Waters John Samuel Waters Jr. (born April 22, 1946) is an American filmmaker, writer, actor, and artist. Born and raised in Baltimore, Waters rose to fame in the early 1970s for his Cinema of Transgression, transgressive cult films, including ''Multip ...
, and Marty Rhone were in the Sydney production. Melbourne played 504 performances and Sydney played 507 before the two companies went on tour, performing another 700 shows.


1971: London, England

''Godspell'' opened at the
Roundhouse Theatre The Roundhouse Theatre is a theatre-in-the-round located in the Kelvin Grove Urban Village, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It is Australia's only purpose-built theatre in the round. The building is owned by Queensland University of Technology ...

Roundhouse Theatre
in
Chalk Farm Chalk Farm is a small urban district of north London North London is the northern part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The c ...
,
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
on November 17, 1971. This London production featured Jacquie-Ann Carr,
Julie Covington Julie Covington (born 11 September 1946) is an English singer and actress, best known for sound recording and reproduction, recording the original version of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina", which she sang on the 1976 concept album Evita (album), E ...
,
David Essex David Essex (born David Albert Cook; 23 July 1947) is an English singer, songwriter, and actor. Since the 1970s, he has attained 19 Top 40 singles in the UK (including two number ones) and 16 Top 40 albums. Internationally, Essex had the most ...

David Essex
, Neil Fitzwiliam, Jeremy Irons, Verity-Anne Meldrum, Deryk Parkin, Tom Saffery, Gay Soper, and Marti Webb. After a successful run at the Roundhouse Theatre, the production transferred to the Wyndham's Theatre, also in London, on January 26, 1972. with Barry Stokes (actor), Barry Stokes.


1972: Washington, D.C.

The Washington, D.C. production of ''Godspell'', at Ford's Theater, ran from 1972 into 1973. The cast consisted of Bart Braverman, Bartley Braverman, Scotch Byerley, Baillie Gerstein, Tony Hoty, Maggie Hyatt, D'Jamin Bartlett, Doris Jamin, Irving Allen Lee, Irving Lee, Dean Pitchford, John-Ann Washingson and Lynne Thigpen.


1972: Toronto

The 1972–1973 Toronto production opened at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and was intended to be a run of a few dozen performances for a Subscription business model, subscription audience. The cast was drawn entirely from local performers, instead of a touring cast. After an enthusiastic response from the audience, the scheduled run at the Royal Alexandra ended and the show moved uptown to the Bayview Playhouse in Leaside. The Bayview Playhouse production ran until August 1973, with a then-record run of 488 performances. The Toronto production launched the careers of many actors, including Victor Garber, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner, Dave Thomas (actor), Dave Thomas, and Martin Short, as well as the show's musical director, Paul Shaffer. Howard Shore played saxophone for this production.


1973: Maseru (Lesotho, Southern Africa)

Godspell opened in Maseru, Lesotho in 1973 and ran for five months. When Des and Dawn Lindberg brought the show to the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), it was immediately banned on the grounds of blasphemy. The ban was widely recognized as a political response to the depiction of racial mixing, which presented a direct challenge to apartheid in South Africa. The Lindbergs challenged the ban in the Supreme Court and won their case. As a result, ''Godspell'' toured South Africa for two years and opened doors to all races on both sides of the footlights. This production was both a theatrical triumph and a political and legal breakthrough.


1976: Broadway

The first Broadway production opened on June 22, 1976, at the Broadhurst Theatre. It was directed by John Michael Tebelak, with Steve Reinhardt as Music director, musical director, costumes by Susan Tsu, lighting by Spencer Mosse, and sound by Robert Minor. The opening cast featured
Lamar Alford Lamar Alford (October 11, 1944 - March 29, 1991) was an American actor An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance (also actress; #The term actress, see below). The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium o ...
, Laurie Faso, Lois Foraker, Robin Lamont, Elizabeth Lathram, Bobby Lee, Tom Rolfing, Don Scardino, Marley Sims, and Valerie Williams. Kerin Blair, Bob Garrett, Michael Hoit, and Kitty Rea were understudies. The band consisted of Paul Shaffer (keyboards, conductor), Mark Zeray (guitar), Chris Warwin (bass), and Michael Redding (percussion). The show transferred to the Plymouth Theatre, then to the Ambassador Theatre (New York), Ambassador Theatre, where it closed on September 4, 1977, after 5 previews and 527 performances.


1981: La MaMa revival

Ten years after the original production of ''Godspell'' and twenty years after the theater's founding, the musical was revived at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in Manhattan. Tebelak directed the 1981 production, with Robert Stecko as musical directed. The cast included
Lamar Alford Lamar Alford (October 11, 1944 - March 29, 1991) was an American actor An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance (also actress; #The term actress, see below). The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium o ...
, Kerin Blair, R. Bruce Connelly, Michael Hoit, Paul Kreppel,
Sonia Manzano Sonia Manzano (born June 12, 1950) is an American actress, screenwriter, author, speaker and singer-songwriter. She is best known for playing Maria on ''Sesame Street ''Sesame Street'' is an American educational children's television Ch ...
, Melanie Mayron, Marilyn Pasekoff, Leslie Ann Ray, and Jeremy Sage, with Danny Rutigliano as understudy. John Michael Tebelak then flew to Los Angeles where a west coast 10th anniversary reunion production was staged featuring original cast members Peggy Gordon, Stephen Nathan, Herb Braha, Jeffrey Mylett, Gilmer McCormick and David Haskell, with Marley Sims, Patti Mariano, Jeannie Lange, Bob Garrett and original musical director Stephen Reinhardt.


1988: Off-Broadway

The Lamb's Theatre revival ran from June 12 through December 31, 1988. It was directed by Don Scardino, with Steven M. Alper as musical director and Doug Besterman as assistant musical director, and with new musical arrangements by Steven M. Alper and Doug Besterman. Costumes were by David C. Woolard, lighting was by Phil Monat, and sound was by T. Richard Fitzgerald. The cast included Trini Alvarado, Anne Bobby (credited as Anne Marie Bobby), Bill Damaschke, Laura Dean (actress), Laura Dean, Angel Jemmott, Eddie Korbich, Mia Korf, Robert McNeill, Harold Perrineau, (credited as Harold Perrineau Jr.), and Jeffrey Steefel.


2000: Off-Broadway

''Godspell'' was revived off-Broadway at the York Theatre from August 2 to October 7, 2000. Cast members included Shoshana Bean, Tim Cain, Catherine Cox, Will Erat, Barrett Foa, Lucia Giannetta, Capathia Jenkins, Chad Kimball, Leslie Kritzer and Eliseo Roman.


2011: Broadway revival

The first Broadway revival opened for previews on October 13, 2011, at the Circle in the Square Theatre, and officially opened on November 7, 2011, to mixed reviews. Theatre review aggregator ''Curtain Critic'' gave the production a score of 63/100, based on the opinions of eighteen critics. The production featured Hunter Parrish, Wallace Smith, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Celisse Henderson, Telly Leung, George Salazar, Morgan James, Uzo Aduba, Nick Blaemire, and Lindsay Mendez, and was directed by Daniel Goldstein, choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, and produced by Ken Davenport. On April 17, 2012, Corbin Bleu took over the role of Jesus. The 2011 cast recording was released digitally on December 20, 2011, and in stores on January 31, 2012. The production closed on June 24, 2012.


2020: Berkshire Theatre Group

Godspell became the first live show to be approved by the Actors' Equity Association during the COVID-19 pandemic. This production, which was performed in a tent in the Berkshire Theatre Group's parking lot, featured Nicholas Edwards, Tim Jones, Alex Getlin, Michael Wartella, Zach Williams, Dan Rosales, Brandon Lee, Emily Koch, Isabel Jordan, Najah Hetsberger and Kimberly Emmanuel. Instead of the standard opening to the show, which features the song, "Tower of Babble," the actors of the show shared how their lives were uniquely impacted by the pandemic. The show, which had the audience sitting ten feet away from the actors on stage (who were socially distanced themselves) required that every audience member wear a facial covering for the duration of the performance. This production brought up the possibility of more socially distanced theatrical productions in the future. The show ran from August 6, 2020, until September 20, 2020.


Adaptations


''Godspell, Jr.''

Part of
Music Theatre International Music Theatre International (MTI) is a theatrical licensing agency based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an ...
's Broadway Junior series, ''Godspell Junior'' is a revised script to be performed by a younger cast. ''Godspell Junior'' contains much of the first act and very little of the second. In the hour-long one-act show, four songs are cut: "Turn Back, O Man", "Alas for You", "By My Side", and "On the Willows". "Beautiful City" with updated lyrics is a part of the show, placed at the beginning of the second act, and is immediately followed by the Last Supper, the Betrayal, and the Crucifixion.


1973 film

A Godspell (film), film version of the musical was released in 1973, set in modern New York City, New York and featuring Victor Garber (from the first Canadian cast) as
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
,
David Haskell David Michael Haskell (June 4, 1948 – August 30, 2000) was an American film, stage and television actor and singer best known for his performance in Godspell. Early life He was born in Stockton, California Stockton is a city and the ...
(from the original cast) as
John the Baptist John the Baptist ''Yohanān HaMatbil''; la, Ioannes Baptista; grc-gre, Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, ''Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs'' or , ''Iōánnēs ho baptízōn'', or , ''Iōánnēs ho pródromos'';Wetterau, Bruce. ''World history' ...

John the Baptist
/Judas Iscariot, Judas, and Lynne Thigpen. Tebelak co-wrote the screenplay and served as creative consultant for the film. The song "Beautiful City" was written for and first included in the film. "Prologue: Tower Of Babel" was omitted, and "Learn Your Lessons Well" and "We Beseech Thee" were reduced to minor interludes. Original cast members Robin Lamont, Gilmer McCormick, Joanne Jonas, and
Jeffrey Mylett Jeffrey Mylett (June 8, 1949 – May 7, 1986) was an United States, American actor and songwriter. He was best known for his roles in both the stage and film productions of ''Godspell''. Personal life Mylett was born in North Canton, Ohio. He a ...
also appear in the film.


Controversy

The hippie clothing that the cast wears in the play has caused some controversy. In his "Notes on the Script" (1999), Stephen Schwartz wrote, "There are often misconceptions about the concept of the clown analogy in ''Godspell''. For instance, sometimes cast members are thought to be 'hippies' or 'flower children'. The concept was derived by John-Michael Tebelak from a book by Harvey Cox, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, entitled ''Feast of Fools''." There has also been some controversy or confusion over ''Godspells lack of a resurrection scene. This criticism notably mirrors similar criticism leveled at the 1970 rock opera ''
Jesus Christ Superstar ''Jesus Christ Superstar'' is a sung-through The adjective In linguistics, an adjective (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that grammatical modifier, modifies a noun or noun phrase or describes its referent. Its Sema ...

Jesus Christ Superstar
'' which also did not depict the resurrection. Rather than be resurrected, Jesus dies in the "Finale", and the cast is typically directed to lift his body over their heads and walk off through the audience to end the show. Schwartz has made a note of this in the script, saying:
Over the years, there has been comment from some about the lack of an apparent Resurrection in the show. Some choose to view the curtain call, in which JESUS appears, as symbolic of the resurrection; others point to the moment when the cast raise JESUS above their heads. While either view is valid, both miss the point. GODSPELL is about the formation of a community which carries on JESUS' teachings after he has gone. In other words, it is the effect JESUS has on the OTHERS which is the story of the show, not whether or not he himself is resurrected. Therefore, it is very important at the end of the show that it be clear that the OTHERS have come through the violence and pain of the crucifixion sequence and leave with a joyful determination to carry on the ideas and feelings they have learned during the course of the show.
Though ''Godspell'' was a successful production, much like ''Jesus Christ Superstar'', that began to break down the barriers between rock and roll and Christianity, it was regarded with suspicion by the mainstream evangelical culture because it did not emphasize the religious doctrines of resurrection and atonement. The social statement made by ''Godspell'' when it first premiered was a serious one at a time when Christianity in the United States was being pulled in different directions; interest in mainstream Christianity was dwindling, especially among the youth, who wanted to leave the Church but not Christianity. ''Godspell'' captured this youthful sentiment that reimagined Jesus as a hippie in a more primitive expression of their faith, relating to Jesus not as an object to venerate but as a companion, which contemporary reviewer Clive Barnes described as a "perfectly contemporary and perfectly vulgar concept of peace and goodwill to all men". Barnes called the "whole premise rather nauseating”, a view that was in line with the response in mainline protestant, mainline congregations.


Awards and nominations


Original Broadway production


References


External links


''Godspell'' on MusicalSchwartz.com (cast album details, lyrics, history, stories from Stephen Schwartz)''Godspell'' on Internet Broadway Database


*[http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000217 ''Godspell''] on
Music Theatre International Music Theatre International (MTI) is a theatrical licensing agency based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an ...

Script notes for ''Godspell''''Godspell''musical.com''Godspell'' on La MaMa Archives Digital Collections
{{DEFAULTSORT:Godspell 1971 musicals Off-Broadway musicals Broadway musicals Rock musicals Musicals based on religious traditions Musicals based on the Gospels Cultural depictions of John the Baptist Cultural depictions of Judas Iscariot Gospel of Matthew Musicals by Stephen Schwartz West End musicals