Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Godspell

Godspell was released in 1973 and is the film adaptation of the Off-Broadway musical Godspell created by John-Michael Tebelak. Set in modern New York City, it was filmed in New York in the fall of 1972.

This film stars Victor Garber as Jesus and David Haskell as John the Baptist/Judas.

A modern-day version of the gospels, opening with John the Baptist calling a group of young New Yorkers from their workaday lives to follow and learn from Jesus. They form a roving acting troupe that enacts the parables through song and dance, comedy, and mime. Jesus' ministry ends with a last supper, his Crucifixion in a junkyard, and, the following morning, his body being carried aloft by his apostles back into the world of the living on the streets of New York.

Godspell has a kind of simplicity and sweetness that are often the disguises of fierce anti-intellectualism. Jesus is portrayed as a tireless hoofer and a most engaging minstrel man. One of the finest production numbers is the ironic "All for the Best," which Jesus and John the Baptist sing and dance all over New York, highlighted by a marvelous soft-shoe done in front of the Bulova Watch sign overlooking Times Square.

I think my favorite character in the movie is a lonely girl named Robin - played by Robin Lamont - a beautiful honey blonde, who sings "Day by Day," and of several hugely funny parables acted out by virtually the entire company. I loved the wacky costume she wore and I actually dressed up like her for Halloween when I was 12 years old. "Day by Day" is also my favorite musical number of the movie.
"Day by day,
Day by day.
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray.
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by day ...
Day by day by day by day..."

Godspell is one of my favorite movies from my youth. I like its music, its drive and its determination; it holds up to today's standards of musical performances. Not only did it have a wonderful message, but it helped to to understand more of the teachings I learned in Sunday School.

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