Setting the Scene

Godspell is a musical based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak.

Following closely on the heels of the similarly-themed Jesus Christ Superstar, it opened off-Broadway on the 17th of May 1971 and has played in various touring companies and revivals many times since.

Act 1 starts with the prologue. Its purpose is to show how chaos ensues when there is no community spirit.

A group of young people gather in a playground surrounded by a high wall. Each of the group represents a famous prophet or thinker: Socrates, Da Vinci, Gibbon, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Buckminster Fuller. Each Philosopher believes that his or her view of the world is the most accurate and will not waver to the point where in they begin to argue and loose sight of what is going on sitting in their ivory towers.

Then John the Baptist steps forward to talk about the coming of the Lord and he effectively silences the gathering by the direct simplicity of his statement. When he has finished, the group take off their shrouds, shedding the confused tongues of the theorists for John’s simple wisdom. They don colourful costumes and are converted and baptized by John. The leader now assumes the role of Jesus, his T-shirt bearing a large ‘5’, and he declares the purpose of Christ’s mission on Earth is to save the people. The group now retell various parables from Matthew and Luke. One sparks off a dialogue between Jesus and Judas about the gulf between the rich and poor. This eventually leads on to the parable of the sower and the seed, and a mood of thanksgiving for the simple things. After an enactment of the prodigal son, a celebratory note is sounded and the audience is invited for a drink during the interval.

The second act opens with a song urging the gathering to change its ways. One of the players asks Jesus, “By whose authority are you acting like this?” Jesus proceeds to re-enact his last days on Earth.

As Pharisees, some of the group try to trick Jesus by asking him whether Jews must pay taxes to Rome, but he evades them. The next trap is set over the adulterous woman, but Jesus answers that “only the one who is faultless shall throw the first stone.” After the woman is released, she asks to be one of Christ’s followers. To try to forget Jesus’ approaching fate the company light-heartedly mock the way in which some people are converted. At the Last Supper, the group removes their bandannas as Jesus bids each of them farewell. He then climbs the wall where he hangs with outstretched arms as in the Crucifixion.

Musical Numbers

Act 1

The Prologue – The Tower of Babble – Socrates / Thomas Aquinas / Martin Luther / Da Vinci / Gibbon / Nietzche / Sartre / Buckmaster Fuller & Company

Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord – John the Baptist & Company

Save The People – Jesus & Company

Day by Day – Robin & Company

Learn Your Lessons Well – Joanne

Bless the Lord – Joanne / Robin / Zara / Sonia / Gilmer / Peggy & Company

All For the Best – Jesus & Judas

All Good Gifts – Herb & Company

Light of the World – Gilmer / Herb & Company

Act 2

Learn Your Lessons Well (reprise) – Judas & Company

Turn Back O Man – Sonia & Company

Alas For You – Jesus

By My Side – Peggy / Gilmer & Company

We Beseech Thee – Jeffrey & Company

Day By Day (reprise) – The Company

On The Willows – Herb / Jeffrey & Brian

Finale – Jesus & Company

The Production team

  • Stage Director – Nicki Parry
  • Musical Director – Tom Fowkes
  • Piano – Tom Fowkes
  • Guitar – Jim Gibbard
  • Drums – Anthony Palmer
  • Choreograph – Pauline Seagroatt / Debbie Featherstone / Nicki Parry / Barbara Hill / Peter Hawkshaw / Justine Knight
  • Set Design and Construction – Richard Seagroatt, Pauline Seagroatt & Nigel Barefoot
  • Make up – Pauline Seagroatt
  • Properties – The Cast
  • Costumes – Barbara Hill & Debbie Featherstone
  • Stage Management – Ian Caldecourt & Richard Knight
  • Lighting – Darren Knight
  • Sound – David Clarke
  • Prompt – Bernadette Pompilis
  • Box Office – Jill Seagroatt
  • Front of House – Barry Pavey & Sarah O’Donovan
  • Publicity and Programme – Justine Knight

The Cast

  • Jesus – Nigel Barefoot
  • Socrates – Marie Seagroatt
  • Thomas Aquinas – Francesca Walsh
  • Martin Luther – Peter Hawkshaw
  • Da Vinci – Richard Seagroatt
  • Gibbon – Pauline Seagroatt
  • Nietzche – Justine Knight
  • Sartre – Barbara Hill
  • Buckmaster Fuller – Jude Figueira
  • John the Baptist/Judas – Jordan Lownds
  • Joanne – Pauline Seagroatt
  • Zara – Nicki Parry
  • Sonia – Debbie Featherstone
  • Gilmer – Justine Knight
  • Jeffrey – Richard Seagroatt
  • Peggy – Barbara Hill
  • Herb – Peter Hawkshaw
  • Robin – Francesca Walsh
  • Skye – Marie Seagroatt
  • Randy – Sandy Holmes
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