GODSPELL Revival is Aiming for Broadway Spring/Summer 2011

GODSPELL Revival is Aiming for Broadway Spring/Summer 2011

An audition notice has went out for the upcoming Broadway production of GODSPELL, noting that performances will begin in the Spring/Summer of 2011. Specific dates and a theatre are as of yet unnamed. 

Producer announced back in September that he's secured the rights and is aiming to bring Godspell back to Broadway during the 2010-2011 season. The last attempt to bring back to the show, in fall of 2008 with different producers failed to secure needed funding and fell through. 

The same director, Daniel Goldstein, is however attached to the new production, which Davenport says will aim for one of Broadway's smaller musical houses.  Now set to choreograph is Christopher Gattelli

This new production marks the first Broadway revival of the seminal American musical since its acclaimed run ended thirty years ago. With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (WickedPippinThe Magic Show) and book by John-Michael TebelakGodspell will mark the Broadway debut of director Daniel Goldstein.

Based on The Gospel according to St. MatthewGodspell was originally a senior thesis directing project for Carnegie Mellon University Master of Fine Arts candidate John-Michael Tebelak.  Using a profound experience at an Easter Sunday church service for inspiration, Tebelak wrote the first version of Godspell in 1970.  This first version included a score comprised mostly of lyrics from the Episcopal Hymnal set to music by the student cast.  After a chance meeting with Ellen Stewart of Café La MaMa in New York, Godspell transferred to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club for a two-week, ten performance run where it was brought to the attention of producers Edgar Landsbury (brother of Angela Landsbury) and Joseph Beruh

Excited by what they saw, the duo approached Tebelak with the opportunity of an off-Broadway run if he would agree to a new score.  Tebelak agreed and the producers hired Stephen Schwartz, another alumnus of the Carnegie Mellon theatre department, to write new songs for the show.  Schwartz's score featured a variety of styles including pop, folk rock, gospel and vaudeville.  "By My Side" was the only song kept from the original production.  The new Schwartz / Tebelak musical Godspell opened off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre on May 13, 1971 and its success was immediately evident.  The critics raved unanimously and in August of 1971, Godspell moved to the larger Promenade Theatre where it ran for 2,124 performances making it one of the longest running Off-Broadway musicals in history. 

After five years of sold-out audiences Off-Broadway, Godspell made its Broadway debut on June 22, 1976 at the Broadhurst Theatre.  Critics found the show to be just as fresh and exciting as it was when it first opened at the Cherry Lane.  The show would move to the Plymouth and the Ambassador before closing on September 4, 1977 after 527 performances.  In all, the musical achieved more than 2,600 performances both on Broadway and off.

Godspell has entertained audiences the world over for decades.  Major sit-down productions of the smash hit musical were produced in most all major cities including Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago and Toronto.  During much of 1972, these seven companies performed simultaneously. Productions also opened abroad in Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Melbourne.  A London production, which opened in 1971, ran for nearly three years.  In the last four years of its New York run, there were 25 companies performing Godspellaround the world with eight resident companies and three touring companies.  Godspell has been credited for establishing Toronto as a major theatre center that could support its own productions with its own actors.  The legendary 1972-73 Toronto production cast local actors for the record-breaking production providing the first paying jobs for actors Victor GarberEugene LevyAndRea Martin, Gilda Radner, Dave Thomas and Martin Short.  Paul Schaffer served as musical director.  

A film version of Godspell was released in 1973 set in modern New York City.  The cast featured Toronto alum Victor Garber as Jesus, David Haskell as John the Baptist/Judas and Lynne Thigpen in her first film role.  John-Michael Tebelak co-wrote the screenplay and served as the creative consultant. The song "Beautiful City" was written for the film and has subsequently been performed in major stage revivals of the show.  Godspell permeated pop culture when its song "Day By Day" reached #13 on the Billboard Top 100 list.


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