"Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Godspell"

I recently worked on a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and saw a local production of Godspell. I thought that they were both appropriate, but I know that some people dislike them. For those not familiar with the shows, Jesus Christ Superstar focuses mainly on Jesus’s Passion, while Godspell deals more with His parables and teachings. Anyway, any thoughts?

I voted for Godspell is moral, and abstained on JC Superstar. In Eighth grade (1973) Sister Ann took taught us Godspell music in class by singing along with a record in preparation for our field trip to go see a production in Chicago. Since then I have rented the video from the library and showed my own children.

I abstained on JC Superstar because I never saw it or read the script.

I like the music to both, and often play the piano and sing Godspell songs with my children. Many Christians know the song “Day by Day” but don’t know it was from Godspell. Funny thing you asked; yesterday I got out my old JC Superstart music and played it on piano while my wife played flute and one daughter played violin.


If Mel Gibson has artistic license to produce his version of the Passion of Christ according to his vision (whatever your opinion on his research, scripting, production methods, casting, etc.) then any artist has similar license, is producing his work according to his own inner vision, however inspired or flawed it may be. Are you asking if the image of Jesus as portrayed by different theatrical works is authentic? Are you asking if it is okay for a Catholic to participate in a production which presents a flawed image?

Never saw Godspell but I did see Superstar many years ago and loved it. It presents a very Human Jesus which many objected too. Yes He is God but the whole point of the Incarnation was His HUMANITY. When Lazarus died, Yes he knew that the Father would hear Him and Yes He knew he would be raised. But He wept anyway for His freind was dead and that hurts. HE hurt over His friends death and all the sorrow that accompanies such a tragic event.

i absolutely love godspell, saw it twice. wish i could have gone more.

i really have no desire to see JC superstar.

[quote=Catholicvegan]I recently worked on a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and saw a local production of Godspell. I thought that they were both appropriate, but I know that some people dislike them. For those not familiar with the shows, Jesus Christ Superstar focuses mainly on Jesus’s Passion, while Godspell deals more with His parables and teachings. Anyway, any thoughts?

I am curious as to why these two plays are still around? They would seem to be dated to me? Some of the tunes are catchy. I have not seen them in years and really would not comment on their theology.

Only seen parts of Godspell…not really interesting for me…seen Jesus Christ Superstar and think it rocks! There’s a new DVD of it and I’ll be picking it up. Great music, decent depiction for its kind of production story.

I don’t know if moral is the right word. Perhaps we should be asking if they’re biblically or theologically accurate, in which case I would say that *Godspell *has a slight advantage over *Jesus Christ Superstar. *However, neither of them really are, nor were they intended to be - they were meant to be musical entertainment. From that standpoint, I personally think *Superstar *was much better. Most of the music is really first-rate. I’ve also seen it several times on stage and it lends itself to some creative things in production. I’ve seen both of the movies, and again I think *Superstar *is much better - both were obviously done on a shoestring, but this one was a much better production. Aside from a couple of songs, especially “Day by Day”, I think *Godspell *is just silly, and the music is typical Broadway cliche.

Just my opinion, of course! :wink:

I find Godspell more joyous, and Superstar a bit mean-spirited.
I find Godspell theologically inoffensive (even thought-provoking), while Superstar strays into heresy, especially in the Garden where the “very human” Christ has doubts about his ministry. (I also question at least one of the casting calls in Suoerstar, but maybe people should not be held responsible for their prior careers).
I enjoyed playing bass in the pit band for Godspell more than playing bass in the rock band for Superstar…

But that’s just me.

may our Mother protect us!


One thing that I think many people who criticize Jesus Christ Superstar fail to realize is that the play is presented largely from the points of view of Mary Magdalen and Judas Iscariot (especially Judas). It is not meant to be theologically faithful to Gospels (even though it largely is), but instead is meant to contrast two differing views of Christ, those of one who loves him growing in understanding and acceptance of who Christ is, and the other of one who loves him but growing to reject Christ because of not understanding him.

– Mark L. Chance.

Well, to throw in my :twocents: , never saw Superstar (never really had any desire to) so I can’t comment on that. As for Godspell, I haven’t seen that in many many years. It always seemed pretty innocuous to me…and a perhaps a little hokey.

Maybe I should start a real controversy and begin a thread about The Last Temptation of Christ…:whistle:

[quote=Catholicvegan]I recently worked on a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and saw a local production of Godspell. I thought that they were both appropriate, but I know that some people dislike them. For those not familiar with the shows, Jesus Christ Superstar focuses mainly on Jesus’s Passion, while Godspell deals more with His parables and teachings. Anyway, any thoughts?

I believe that Godspell is a happy/sappy 1960s “popular Jesus” play. The music was good in a happy/sappy way. I didn’t see it. I liked the popular (top 100) music of the time from it. If I recall, “Godspell” is the Olde English spelling of “Gospel.”

I believe that Jesus Christ Superstar is an Anglican take on “the Gospel of Judas” with good – though 1960s contemporary – music. Judas wasn’t perfect, but he did have a perspective. The play is presented from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Anglican interpretation (institution of communion/Lords Supper was really wimpy) of how Judas may have written an account of the life of Jesus.

I have seen both. I don’t think there is a question of “morality” involved with either. These were musical plays, and both had their good songs. They are entertainment, pure and simple. Us Catholics have this habit of trying to assign moral good or bad to everything, even things like this.

I was wondering if anybody here has seen one of these two musicals based on the life of Christ and what Catholics think of them. They aren’t always entirely accurate to traditional teachings. “Jesus Christ Superstar” follows the story of the Passion but focuses entirely on the “human” aspect of Jesus, leaving it up to the viewer to decide whether Jesus is the Son of God. Judas is portrayed a bit more positively than usual. And it is implied that Mary Magdalene is in love with Jesus. The movie ends ambigulously (we see the cross in silhoutte against the fading sun. It is too dark to see whether there is a body left. In the distance we see a shepherd walk past, but again it is too dark to see his face.)

Godspell by comparison is much more “Christian” but a lot less “Biblical”. It presents the teachings of Jesus but ignores the story of the Gospels for the most part. It is about a Jesus like fellow in modern day New York who dresses like a clown, who gathers a group of disciples after they have been baptized. Together they wonder through the streets of New York acting like young chilren, reciting the sermons and parables of Jesus using exageratted acting and humour along with musical numbers (traditional hymn lyrics with rock music added). At the end Jesus is betrayed by one of his followers and crucified. Unlike JCS it makes clear that Jesus is the Son of God, but neglects to show any miracles or explain his miraculous birth. The ending is also ambiguous. The disciples (did I mention there are women disciples? And only 9 altogether.) take down Jesus’ body and carry it off through the streets. Then they start singing "Long Live God, Prepare Ye the way of the Lord! Day by day, oh dear Lord three things I pray - to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly!) It seems to imply the resurrection, but again, it is not directly shown for whatever reason.

Both of these movies can be found on youtube divided into many parts.

I’ve seen both films and I’ve also seen Godspell performed on stage. I guess the only thing I can say about them is that they are a product of their times. Many things better forgotten came out of the early seventies.

While I’m not a fan of JCS nor of the Godspell movie, I could see the stage version of Godspell every day and not get tired of it. Why? Because I love the music and because I haven’t seen it done the same way twice – each production is unique.

Godspell is very biblical, starting with the Baptism of the Lord and focusing not on the miracles but on the teachings, the parables. The resurrection is more than implied in the stage version.

The shepherd walking through the scene ant the end of JCS was an accident, a real shepherd was unaware they were filming and walked through the shot, the director left it in.

I like JCS, I’ve seen both the movie and the stage show, I think the message is positive and accurate enough, although Mary Magdelene is a bit too lovey-dovey, and his mother Mary is left out of the story.

I wasn’t too impressed with the stage show so much, probably being influenced by the movie in my youth. I mostly remember the bow at the end of the show, the actors that played Jesus and Judas hugged (I guess to show no hard feelings)

I never saw all of Godspell not being interested, but going to Catholic School all during the '70’s, I found it odd that Godspell and the music was often used and encouraged as positive pop culture media, while JCS was discouraged, ignored and hardly mentioned. While I never heard outright, I think they didn’t like JCS.

Looking back, they’re all a bunch of hippies :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I like JCS as an opera. It’s my understanding that it is loosely based on the Gospel of Judas which explains the positive portrayal of Judas and the treatment of Mary Magdalene. It also explains why it ends before the resurrection. Judas wasn’t around to see it.

I suppose it’s because I like seventies music in general, I particularly like the music from Godspell. It’s lightweight Christianity but true to the Gospel.

There was a thread about Godspell on these forums last year–I hope this link to the thread works:


My husband and I love *Godspell *and have seen dozens of different productions of it. Some were produced by Christians (churches or schools), other by non-Christians in secular theaters. Some were professional, some were rank amateur. Some were set in a city, in a circus, or in the streets. My favorite production of Godspell was done at a summer youth drama camp, and had two hundred children and teenagers in the cast–yes, the director did it very well.

Some productions showed a very obvious resurrection of the Lord Jesus, while others did not show it. It doesn’t matter–the resurrection is obvious from the music. But it is so nice when a director chooses to show a literal resurrection of Jesus!

*Godspell *i s word for word from the book of Matthew, so I’m not quite sure I understand the OP comment about the Gospels.

And many of the songs from Godspell are adaptations of ancient religious poetry, or taken from the Bible.

I believe that the depiction of the Last Supper in Godspell was one of the many things that God used to bring me to Catholicism. The Godspell version of the Communion depicts how much Jesus really loves us.

Hope the link works. If not, try a search and you should be able to find the thread.

I had the original Jesus Christ Superstar album way back when. Then I had the good fortune to see a local opera company perform it. …was fantastic!


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