​​About Godspell ...

Madison Lyric Stage is proud to present its Young Artist Production of Godspell. Stephen Schwartz transformed the work of John-Michael Tebelak into one of the most beloved and frequently produced musicals of the last 40 years.


Godspell began its life as Tebelak's master's thesis project, and within a year, the show opened in New York at the LaMama Experimental Theatre Club  in 1971. The  musical attracted the interest of several important producers who engaged Stephen Schwartz to write a new score and lyrics. 


Schwartz's songs incorporated a variety of musical styles, from pop to folk rock, gospel, and vaudeville. One song, "By My Side", written by CMU students Jay Hamburger and Peggy Gordon, was kept from the original score.


As with the original score, most of the non-Schwartz lyrics were from the Episcopal Hymnal. And one of its songs, "Day by Day," in the version from the original cast album, sung by Robin Lamont, reached No. 13 on the Billboard pop singles chart in the summer of 1972. It endures as one of the most familiar and loved songs in the show.

There are many wonderful, memorable songs in Godspell, but few echo so memorably as Day by Day. This scene from the 1973 movie features Robin Lamont and Victor Garber.

Scenario & Synopsis

Godspell does not have a conventional narrative. Its text proceeds by retelling many of the parables told by Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The company consists of 10 singing actors. One plays Jesus, another alternates as John and Judas. The eight others enact the parables.  


The setting can be anywhere and the actors could be costumed in many different ways, though costuming something like clowns is the tradition. In "Notes on the Script," Stephen Schwartz wrote, "There are often misconceptions about the concept of the clown analogy in Godspell. For instance, sometimes cast members are thought to be hippies or flower children."


Tebelak's original concept arises out of desires current in the early 70s to find renewed and joyful hope in faith and spirituality.  And many found that refreshment that were based in the words and music of the times.


So Godspell is an energetic and vigorous retelling of ancient stories. It also shows how a group of strangers can create a new and loving community to live within.