Godspell is a musical that exists. Good night everybody!
Oh, you’re still here. So, we have to go into the history of this one. I guess you should “Prepare Ye” for my utter confusion by Stephen Schwartz’s career. What fun!
Episode 3: Godspell
Book: John-Michael Tebelak
Music & Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz
Based on: Gospel of Saint Matthew
Broadway Premiere: June 22, 1976 at the Broadhurst Theatre
But, like, any Tony Awards?: 1 Nomination for Best Original Score
Best Song, as decided by me alone: …what nice weather we’re having, isn’t it?!
This show had a long journey to The Main Stem, one that isn’t seen much of these days. The show began as a drama project by various students at Carnegie Mellon University, aka one of the most prestigious theater schools in the country. It gave us Billy Porter, Holly Hunter, Judith Light, and Christian Borle, among others. The show was success in its creation, so it then moved to the famous La MaMam Experimental Theatre Club in the East Village, then Off-Broadway in May of 1971.
Weirdly, it took five years from its off-Broadway premiere before it made it to Broadway, proper. It first went to Australia, London, Toronto, and the big screen in the form of a film adaptation. It finally arrived on Broadway in June of 1976 at the Broadhurst Theatre, then moved to the Plymouth Theatre, then to the Ambassador all in the course of a year. It closed on September 4th, 1977 after five previews and 527 performances.
The show is a cast of eight who fill the roles of a theater troupe, of sorts, acting out the parables through song and dance. The lyrics come, as a rule, from traditional hymns.
There was a 2011 Broadway revival at the Circle in the Square Theatre that starred Corbin Bleu for two months, so that’s something.
However, the main Disney connection to Godspell is the composer Stephen Schwartz himself. While his Broadway musical career is bizarre (How do you go from Godspell and Pippin to W I C K E D?!?!), he joined Alan Menken in the 1990s for a successful run of Disney films.
He was the lyricist on Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Enchanted. Now THAT is a run of films! I have no choice but to reverse my Godspell snark (for this sentence) and commend the man who gave us “Just Around the Riverbend,” “The Bells of Notre Dame,” and “Happy Working Song.”
He is rumored to be working on the unannounced Enchanted sequel, Disenchanted, which is also very exciting. If true. ‘Cause it could be a rumor. And I’m not confirming anything. But it COULD be true. And that is enough for me.
Arguably, most importantly, Mr. Schwartz worked on the theme song for Playhouse Disney’s Johnny and the Sprites. THAT, right there, is the culture. And I can ignore my lack of appreciation of Godspell for Johnny. Sorry, Stephen.
He also did the music for the ABC TV film Geppetto, starring Drew Carey. I repeat: Sorry, Stephen. Godspell to Geppetto. I leave that there with no further comment. Enjoy this week’s Encore!