Godspell Turns 44. New Book Reveals Unique Collaborative History

Share Article

The musical "Godspell" opened on May 17, 1971. A new book "The Godspell Experience" is the first book-length account of the show’s rich developmental history, its impact on performers, and the stories behind Stephen Schwartz’s popular score.

When “Godspell” opened on May 17, 1971, no one guessed it would become an internationally popular musical, joining the canon of shows most frequently performed around the world. Decades later the musical is still staged by countless church, school, community theater, and other performing groups. A new book offers insights about the experiences and intentions of the show’s creators.

“The Godspell Experience: Inside a Transformative Musical” is the first book-length account of the show’s rich developmental history, its impact on performers, and the stories behind Stephen Schwartz’s popular score. Author Carol de Giere captured the memories of Schwartz and all of the original cast members who are still living, as well as those of the “Godspell” movie cast members.

As revealed in the book, the first cast members contributed to the show’s development. Stephen Nathan, who played Jesus for an off-off-Broadway production and the final version at the Cherry Lane Theatre Off-Broadway, recalls many hours of improvisation. As quoted in the book, Nathan says, “‘Godspell’ was really all based on play, the innocence of children who see the world uncorrupted—that is how the whole piece evolved. Through improvisations we found what worked and what didn’t work. Ultimately, in the rehearsal process, we solidified those moments that seemed alive and true, and suited the structure of the piece. It was a very transformative process.” This was under the guidance of director John-Michael Tebelak who conceived the show based on material from the Bible, primarily the Gospel of Matthew.

When Stephen Schwartz read a draft of “The Godspell Experience,” he agreed to write a Foreword. In it he comments: “… it has been fascinating to me to read Carol de Giere’s thoroughly researched and colorfully written book, which contains many details about the development of the show that I never knew before.”

“The Godspell Experience” is available from Amazon.com (paperback and ebook), New York City’s Drama Book Shop, and the book site http://www.TheGodspellExperience.com. It is published by Scene 1 Publishing.

Carol de Giere previously wrote the Stephen Schwartz biography, “Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked” (Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, 2008). She is also the editor of two online newsletters: Musical Writerzine and The Schwartz Scene.

For additional photos see http://www.thegodspellexperience.com/press/

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print