The Godspell Experience…And My Personal Position Therein

Posted: February 8, 2015 in Broadway, Culture, Entertainment, Film, Music, New York City, Nightlife, Performance, Theater, Theatre

godspellexpI’m writing this piece in the first person, which many know I’m not usually wont to do. It simply isn’t my way as a journalist, because I was taught that the best way to express reportage was to keep oneself out of it completely, other than being the mechanism that moves the narrative along on its literary way. But this time around, I have no choice. As many know, in the late fall of 2011, I saw the publication of my first book, All for the Best: How Godspell Transferred From Stage to Screen. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, this was borne from an article I wrote here on The Andrew Martin Report earlier that year. At the same time, an author named Carol de Giere was also very hard at work on a book of her own, entitled The Godspell Story: Inside a Transformative Musical (presented by Scene 1 Publishing) which, unlike mine, covered not merely the way the book transferred from a stage musical that began as a college play and became a worldwide cultural phenomenon before a cult film, but every possible aspect of the show from its earliest germination to how it’s viewed today. De Giere, it should be noted, is quite possibly the globe’s greatest expert on the work and life of composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz (her previous book, Defying Gravity, is also a masterfully academic glimpse into the career of this wonderful creator of musical theater for Broadway and beyond). And as such, besides including Schwartz to supply an in-depth Foreword, she has, through almost-unfathomable research, managed to create a tome that could best be described, pardon the pun, as the definitive Bible of the entire Godspell journey. I should note that I was among those persons singularly honored to be interviewed by de Giere for her project and I’m thrilled to have my book listed in the Bibliography as a resource. But this is, for me, small potatoes compared to the privilege of reading the book and soaking up such voluminous knowledge, to which I and so many others were so previously unexposed. Reporting from the very first nanosecond of the show’s development by John-Michael Tebelak in 1970, de Giere wondrously illustrates Godspell‘s conception and the winding path it took from Carnegie-Mellon University to Cafe LaMaMa to the Cherry Lane Theater to a planetary success which continues to this day. She has left absolutely no stone unturned, not merely by dint of her in-depth interviews with members of the original company and the creative team (including profiles of those who’ve since left us, including the late great Lynne Thigpen). But this doesn’t even begin to describe what the book delivers, namely an entire and oft-staggering treatise which at times can leave the reader gasping for air. DeGiere’s attention to detail is overwhelming, and whether the reader is a newcomer to the show’s flock of die-hard fans or a longtime member of same, it all transpires to be most brilliantly educational. In point of fact, Carol de Giere and The Godspell Experience are but two of all good gifts around us, sent from heaven above. So thank the Lord. Thank the Lord for all his love. And purchase a copy!

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