The 40th Anniversary production and first-ever Broadway revival of Stephen Schwartz's rock musical GODSPELL officially opened at the Circle in the Square Theater on November 7, 2011. Were the critics charmed? Let's find out!
The show is directed by Daniel Goldstein and choreographed by Tony Award nominee Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific), and stars a diverse company of 10 young actors, lead by Hunter Parrish as Jesus and Wallace Smith as Judas, and co-starring Uzo Aduba, Nick Blaemire, Celisse Henderson, Morgan James, Telly Leung, Lindsay Mendez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle and George Salazar.
GODSPELL features scenic design by David Korins (Passing Strange, Bridge and Tunnel), costume design by Miranda Hoffman (Well), lighting design by Ben Stanton (Angels in America) and orchestrations by Michael Holland (Hurricane).
Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelakwith music and new lyrics by Academy and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin), GODSPELL's Tony-nominated score features instantly recognizable hits including "Day by Day," "Turn Back, O Man," "Learn Your Lessons Well, "Prepare Ye the Way," "Light of the World" and many more.
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: Go easy on the caffeine if you're heading to the Broadway revival of "Godspell" that opened on Monday night at the Circle in the Square. The cast of this relentlessly perky production of the 1971 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. It's like being trapped in a summer camp rec room with a bunch of kids who have been a little too reckless with the Red Bull.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter/Reuters: Prepare ye the way for disappointment. Goldstein approaches it all like a Children's Television Workshop special. Maybe it's appropriate for a show so widely performed in schools, but this feels indeed like a high school production staged by the wacky new drama teacher. (Think Mr. G. on HBO's under-appreciated Summer Heights High.) Christopher Gattelli's choreography also throws a million ideas at the stage in the hope that something sticks. The strength of some of the second-act songs such as "On the Willows" ensures that a depth of feeling does eventually coalesce. And the crucifixion is arrestingly staged, albeit with cheesy simulated slo-mo from the disciples during the finale's wailing guitar breaks. But my chief takeaway from this was the tarnishing of a treasured theater memory. Now, let's see how Jesus Christ Superstar holds up in the spring.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: "Godspell," which has long been a standard show put on in colleges and high schools, captures the best of the old and embraces the new: At intermission, some cast members stay on stage for the traditional boogie with the audience - yes, free wine is handed out - and yet this new version has the parable about Tribute to Caesar illustrated by Jesus putting a coin in a tip jar. Costumes by Miranda Hoffman remain true to that dynamic, with the use of multicolored pants and suspenders as a nod to the hippy past, and prom dresses, sneakers, a bowling shirt and leopard prints a sign of the new. It all ends badly, of course - for Jesus, not the show. The second act is a bummer, though Jesus' death is sensitively handled. But as his followers carry his body away - their faces glisten with sweat and they are visibly moved - it's clear that "Godspell" has anointed a new group of Broadway stars and we are the richer for it.