Biblical Broadway? Religious Productions Rise Up
Hello Everyone! I’m sure you’re interested to read this article from the title alone which probably grabbed your attention. I was inspired to write to write this article months ago and now that I finally have the time to write it, I’m doing it! And while Broadway has a history of religious productions, Are we heading for an all time high here? Not sure exactly what I’m talking about? Sit back, relax and explore with me Broadway’s biblical production as these normal houses may get a little bit Holy.
As previously mentioned, Broadway is no stranger to religious productions. They are a part of history and current day theatre still taking place. However, more then the usual number of these productions are being/is about to be featured on Broadway which got me thinking. I’m sure some of you know exactly what I’m talking about but some of you are like Biblical Broadway? What is Luner talking about this time!? Well…let me explain.
Current Broadway Production: The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon may not be your typical religious production, but it is one at that. Making its World Premiere this past Spring on Broadway, The Book of Mormon is a musical based after The Book of Mormon and the Mormon missionaries life. Created by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez, the musical follows the story of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham after the two boys are sent to Uganda to spread the Mormon mission. Besides finding themselves in the middle of a genocide and AIDS epidemic, the boys struggle to make sense of this reality nothing like theirs. However, the message of Faith and Trust comes in the show as Elder Price realizes there is a reason they are there.
The Book of Mormon was created by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez. The production was co-directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. The production received 9 Tony Awards at the 2011 ceremony including Best Musical. Songs include “Hello!”, “Two By Two”, “You And Me (But Most Me)” and “I Believe”. The Book of Mormon is currently running on Broadway at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre.
Current Broadway Production: Sister Act; A Divine Musical
Another religious musical on The Great White Way this season is the London smash hit musical, Sister Act; A Divine Musical! Sister Act made its debut on Broadway after being workshopped for many years here in the states to then only move over to London before eventually transferring back here. The musical, which is based off of the hit movie of the same name, follows the story of famous singer Deloris Van Cartier as she becomes a Nun only to protect herself from her ex-boyfriend and his not so nice friends. However, upon arrival at The Holy Order of the Little Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith, Deloris quickly discovers there is something to be made here. After being forced to join the choir, Deloris quickly turns this boring biblical bunch into a crazy colorful choir. Over time despite trouble and mayhem at points, she transforms the choir into a renown group that will eventually perform for the Pope himself.
Sister Act; A Divine Musical was created by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner. Additional book material was added by Douglas Carter Beane. Music is by Alan Menken with lyrics by Glenn Slater. Jerry Zaks directed the Broadway production and the production received 5 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. Songs include “Take Me To Heaven”, “Raise Your Voice”, “Bless Our Show” and “Spread The Love Around”. Sister Act is currently running on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre.
Upcoming Broadway Production: Godspell
The Stephen Schwartz classic will return to life later this fall on Broadway as we look to an upcoming revival of the hit musical, Godspell! Godspell, famously known for being The Gospel According to St. Matthew”, is a musical that takes us through the life of Jesus Christ and the famous story of the Gospel. The story covers the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and the world around him. Digging especially into the betrayal of his best friend Judas, Godspell is musical that reveals all in a theatrical experience.
As previously mentioned, Godspell is a musical featuring a book by John-Michael Tebelak and music/lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. The upcoming revival of Godspell is set to be directed by Daniel Goldstein. Songs include “Day by Day”, “O Bless the Lord”, “All For the Best”and “Beautiful City”. The upcoming revival of Godspell will begin previews October 13th and officially open November 7th at Circle in the Square Theatre.
Potential Upcoming Broadway Production: Jesus Christ Superstar
What’s the buzz, Tell me what’s a happen’! Thats what we all want to know right now as there is potential for yet another upcoming revival that is biblical, Jesus Christ Superstar! The musical Jesus Christ Superstar follows the life of Jesus and many of the other known faces of the time such as Judas and Mary but allows a free interpretation into the psychology into all characters from the time. And while the story does follow the life of Jesus and many of the events of the time, the show especially at times features Judas and his betrayal of his best friend, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice. The 2011 Stratford Production was directed by Des McAnuff and received much praise which prompted this idea of a new Broadway revival. The 2011 Stratford production will transfer to the La Jolla Playhouse in California in November, However no official Broadway plans have been released yet. Songs include “Heaven On Their Minds”, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”, “Could We Start Again Please” and “Superstar”. Luner on Theatre will be sure to keep you up to date on all the news of this potential Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar.
So, now that we have four productions in front of us, I bet you didn’t realize just how many religious pieces are out and about right now! Its very interesting that such a group of productions are all being mounted and executed at the same time. And if after reading this you’re just thinking this is all insanity, I didn’t even mention the fact that The bible itself may soon be turned into a musical. What?!
New Religious Productions in the Works: The Bible: The Beginning
Thats right. You heard me correctly saying that The Bible itself WILL soon be a musical. Philip William McKinley, who became famous upon stepping up to direct Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark after Taymour’s exit, has announced he will work on a new musical titled The Bible: The Beginning. Ridiculous, right? Well if thats not ridiculous enough it has been announced Michael Cohl, the not so average producer behind Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, has announced he will work with McKinley on the project. The musical will feature a book by Shaun McKenna. Music by Michael Levine, Matt Rawlings and Ryan Bevridge with lyrics by Maribeth Derry.
The producers have announced the following short description about the new work: “a live show scaled for arena-sized venues that will use music, dialogue, tumblers, jugglers, singers, aerialists and fighters to re-enact the Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark, Moses and his clash with the Pharaoah, the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, all culminating in the delivery of The Ten Commandments. The musical will be narrated by Gabriel the Messenger; Raphael the Healer; and Michael, Leader of God’s armies.” I’m sure if Michael Cohl has his way with this production….they will be building individual areana’s in cities for this production.
SO, Now can you say that you’ve truly seen it all? I can!
So, I hope you’ve noticed this new trend that I noticed recently about religious productions on the rise. I figured it was something worth pointing out considering how interesting it would be to have The Book of Mormon, Sister Act, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar all on Broadway at once. All these different stories that are all somewhat the same in a much larger sense. Think about it. Its definitely something worth watching and all of these productions will definitely be worth viewing. As for now, be sure to check out Broadway as these religious productions slowly turn these Broadway Houses into Holy Houses!