WHAT’S HOT ON BROADWAY ... AND BEYOND
Have you heard the good news? A fun, rambunc- tious, dare we say “Glee”-ful, musical is on Broadway right now, telling the story of Jesus and the Gospels through joyous song, riotous dance and quite a number of hilarious one-liners. ;e musical is, of course, Godspell, by John-Michael Te- belak and Stephen Schwartz (who also wrote Wicked) and starring Hunter Parrish ( Weeds, Spring Awakening) as Jesus. And it’s drawing big crowds, some of them faithful fans, others curious newcomers, wondering about this modern revival of the original 1976 Broadway production. You probably know the clas- sic song from the musical. “Day by Day,” which reached No. 13 on the Billboard chart in 1972, has three lines so famous— “See ;ee More Clearly, Love ;ee More Dearly, Follow ;ee More Nearly”—that even Ben Stiller called upon them when, as Greg Focker, he was asked to say a blessing before dinner in the movie Meet the Parents. ;at sort of modern popular- ity is partly due to the success of the original Godspell, which first opened O;-Broadway in 1971. Hard to imagine in to- day’s culture, where politicians and athletes name-drop the Holy Trinity as if God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were personal friends, but around the time of Woodstock, religion was on a decline. A flower child, counter- culture musical that presented religion in an irreverent way was just the thing to help make Jesus cool again. Today, that’s not an issue; lots of people are coming to see
Godspell because of the entertainment value, but lots more are coming because they already think Jesus is cool. ;e cul- ture references may be modern—Lindsay Lohan, Steve Jobs, Facebook—but the message is the same: Love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. ;e show’s messages, in the parables found in the Gospels, mostly Matthew, are presented in an earnest, good-natured and highly energetic way. One number, “We Beseech ;ee,” has the cast jumping on trampolines. ;ey also spray confetti out of guns, jump and splash in water, climb on ladders and bring up some of the audi- ence to join in with the ruckus. And when the audience isn’t with the cast on stage, the cast is with the audience in the theater, running and dancing up and down the aisles. Even orchestra members play from di;erent areas of the theater, so you’re never far from a performer. (And that Glee reference? It’s no joke: cast member Telly Leung plays Wes on the TV show.) And speaking of jokes, the one- liners touch on everything from Charlie Sheen and Charlie’s Angels to L. Ron Hubbard and South Park. Let’s put it this way: When Jesus turns water into wine, he’s doing it with Poland Spring. And there is wine, even for the audience—at least the part of it hat participates. During intermis- sion, some of the cast dances with the audience, and free wine is part and parcel for the party. ;e Bible says God makes “wine to gladden the heart of man.” But with the revival of Godspell, the good news is you wouldn’t need even a drop to feel giddy.
as Jesus in the
Circle in the Square Theatre
1633 Broadway at 50th Street