Godspell [Original Off-Off-Broadway Cast]

Godspell [Original Off-Off-Broadway Cast]


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Jesus Christ made a big comeback at the start of 1970s in the guise of a rock star. Perhaps it was the general disillusionment of the late '60s that sent people back to that old-time religion, or maybe it was just that, with his scraggly beard and sandals, Jesus was suddenly identifiable as the prototype of the anti-materialist hippie. In any case, his (or His) return to prominence was heralded by the success of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, which topped the American charts in February 1971. Lloyd Webber and Rice had always intended Superstar to be a stage musical, only recording the album when they failed to find the funds for a production, and they wasted little time in putting it on Broadway, opening the following October. But in between, another stage show about Jesus appeared, Godspell. It was the brainchild of John-Michael Tebelak, who had written the text as a college exercise at Carnegie-Mellon University. Tebelak brought in 23-year-old fellow alumnus Stephen Schwartz to write the music and the "new" lyrics, which, like the book, were adapted from the gospel according to St. Matthew, along with some borrowings from Mark, Luke, and John. Tebelak repeated Christ's teachings and retraced his last days in contemporary language and style, and Schwartz's songs were catchy pop
ock numbers. Though Godspell could be thought of as copying Jesus Christ Superstar, there was a crucial difference in viewpoint between the two works -- Superstar was a skeptical, secular look at Jesus, while Godspell was devout, merely updating and musicalizing Christ's story. The show opened modestly at the tiny Cherry Lane Theater off-off-Broadway in Greenwich Village on May 17, 1971, and slowly built into a worldwide phenomenon. Bell Records, then an arm of Columbia Pictures, which secured the film rights, recorded this cast album, which was released only a couple of months after the opening. (Bell was later absorbed into Arista, which reissued the album.) It sold well enough to make the upper half of the LP charts, but sales then fell off until the spring of 1972, when Bell released "Day By Day" as a single. The song hit the Top Ten in July, with the album peaking in the Top 40 in September and going gold in December. Meanwhile, the show had moved into the larger off-Broadway house, the Promenade Theater, on August 10, 1971, and settled into a long run. After five years and 2,124 performances, it finally transferred to Broadway's Broadhurst Theater on June 22, 1976, remaining on Broadway for another 527 performances. In retrospect, the original cast album is a thinly produced, imperfectly performed version of the score, but its rough edges are smoothed by the infectious enthusiasm of the cast. And the score is full of small pop masterpieces, not only the lovely "Day By Day," but also the stirring rockers "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" and "Save the People," as well as the vaudeville pastiche "All for the Best" and the Mae West-styled "Turn Back, O Man." Schwartz's tunes are simple, but strongly melodic, and they carry the religious and spiritual sentiments in the lyrics well. No wonder the show has been performed continually somewhere in the world since the day it opened.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/03/1990
Label: Arista
UPC: 0078221830423
catalogNumber: 8304
Rank: 477


  1. Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord
  2. Save the People
  3. Day by Day
  4. Learn Your Lessons Well
  5. Bless the Lord
  6. All for the Best
  7. All Good Gifts
  8. Light of the World
  9. Turn Back, O Man
  10. Alas for You
  11. by My Side
  12. We Beseech Thee
  13. On the Willows
  14. Finale
  15. Day by Day (Reprise)

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jesse Cutler   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Vocals
Peggy Gordon   Guitar,Vocals
Richard LaBonte   Bass,Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals
Steve Nathan   Ukulele,Vocals
Steve Reinhardt   Keyboards,Vocals
Ricky Shutter   Percussion,Drums
Jeffrey Mylett   Guitar,Recorder,Vocals
Robin Lamont   Vocals
Lamar Alford   Piano,Vocals
Herb Braha   Vocals
David Haskell   Vocals,shofar
Sonia Manzano   Vocals
Joanne Jonas   Vocals
Gilmer McCormick   Guitar,Vocals

Technical Credits

Elvin Campbell   Engineer
John-Michael Teblak   Director,Concept
Beverly Weinstein   Art Direction
Stephen Schwartz   Arranger,Director,Producer,Musical Director

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