The cast of this relentlessly perky production of the musical, which transformed parables from the Gospels into a series of singable teaching moments, virtually never stops bopping, bouncing, bounding, even trampolining across the stage and up the aisles of the theater. Its afterlife in the wide universe of amateur, church and high school productions may be as formidable as that of any other musical of the era, thanks to its breezy, singalong pop score and its innocuous subject matter. The original book has been stuffed fruitcake-full of gags about contemporary figures and current trends. There are jokes about Facebook, naturally, and Occupy Wall Street, inevitably. Schwartz and playing right next door, could benefit from some product placement.

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A musical is supposed to send us out humming the tunes, but audiences at the new Broadway revival of Godspell seem to be going in humming the tunes. It is not a knock to say that this brightly colored, brashly interactive revival has been engineered for audiences like this—gatherings of the faithful. Whether this revival can win new converts and become a born-again Broadway hit is not easy to predict.

Yet if you couple the atmosphere of communal expectation this year-old show stirs in its fans with the fact that the show itself is designed as little more than a receptacle for those good vibes you might even call it a kind of communion , it is easy to understand the strategy of the new revival, directed by Daniel Goldstein. The approach smacks of an over-eager youth pastor straining to be hip for an audience of skeptical, ADD-addled kids.

Paul might endorse it as a case of being all things to all people. The bad news is that this eagerness to amuse and distract sometimes edges perilously close to desperation; often it undermines or ignores the moral force of the teachings it seeks to illustrate. When my theatergoing companion, a secular Jew, asked me to give him a rundown of some parables before the show, I found myself unable to retell the parable of the prodigal son without getting choked up with emotion.

This is not Jesus as prophet and healer; this is Jesus the pre-school teacher giving his class a time out. In the play, the parable of Lazarus and the rich man becomes a standoff between a birth certificate-doubting Donald Trump and a Borat-like Abraham, while the parable of the sower enacts the deaths of the first two seeds by way of slow-motion instant replay.

As much fun as all these shows may be, however, it is hardly snobbery to note that none contains theological insight or even content. Now, if someone could just set that to music, we might have a winner. Your source for jobs, books, retreats, and much more. Theater December 12, issue. Rob Weinert-Kendt December 12, A Broadway Revival: 'Godspell' gets updated. Show Comments 1. Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication.

See our comments policy for more. I suspect the balance between fun story and faith story will always tilt to one side or the other. Catholic publishers didn't want a book about a drunken pope who ends up on Seattle's Skid Road.

And commercial publishers didn't want a book that seemed too Catholic. I would explain "and it's funny" and that really ended the discussion. He writes a blog called RobKendt. Most popular. The president is dragging the church into a culture war. To fight racism, Catholics must hunger for justice like we do for the Eucharist. Pope Francis on the death of George Floyd: We cannot tolerate racism and claim to defend life. Educators needed. CKSC offers a year of service unlike any other.

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A Broadway Revival: 'Godspell' gets updated

Godspell was the first major musical theatre offering from three-time Grammy and Academy Award winner, Stephen Schwartz Wicked , Pippin , Children of Eden ; and it took the world by storm. A small group of people help Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques and a hefty dose of comic timing. An eclectic blend of songs, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville, is employed as the story of Jesus' life dances across the stage. Dissolving hauntingly into the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Jesus' messages of kindness, tolerance and love come vibrantly to life. Because of its small technical demands and minimal cast size, it has become a staple of theatre companies, large and small. Estimate the approximate cost of your licensing fees by providing a few details about your production. No design skills needed!


Open Forum

I did Godspell around 10 years ago and am looking to do it again. However, I can't decide if I want to do the oirginal or the new version. Has anyone done a good comparison of the two?? I'd like to hear a compare and contrast discussion if possible.


A Vision of Spirituality Returns to Broadway

The show opened Off-Broadway on May 17, , and has since been produced by multiple touring companies and in many revivals. The revival played on Broadway from October 13, , through June 24, The musical is structured as a series of parables , primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew. The parables are interspersed with music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns , with the passion of Christ appearing briefly near the end of the show. The show was then rescored for an Off-Broadway production, which became a long-running success. An abbreviated one-act version of the musical has been produced under the title Godspell Junior. Several cast albums have been released over the years.

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