Revival Time: Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar on Stage

The once-revolutionary musicals bring song and sacrilege to Granville Island

Maybe it was because everyone at the Woodstock festival looked like Jesus—suddenly, at the beginning of the 1970s, the seemingly opposed institutions of religion and rock music found common ground in the theatre.Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar premiered within months of each other in 1971: the former off Broadway in May, the latter on Broadway (following a performance in Pittsburgh before an audience of 13,000) in October. Both take considerable liberties with the Gospels, portraying Jesus as a sort of teen idol living in a world whose population is inclined to spontaneously break into song that sounds like a churchgoing Crosby, Stills & Nash. Not unexpectedly, some found these productions’ avant-garde expressions of reverence wholly offensive. The masses disagreed: attendant soundtrack albums and screen adaptations were smashes, and stage revivals have been virtually nonstop. The Arts Club’s Godspell (closing this Saturday, Aug. 1; Granville Island Stage) and Fighting Chance Productions’ Jesus Christ Superstar (opening Thursday, Aug. 6; Waterfront Theatre) add to their celestial legacies this summer. GodspellTo Aug. 1, various show times Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnston St.)Tickets from Jesus Christ SuperstarAug. 6-22, various show timesWaterfront Theatre (1412 Cartwright St.)Tickets from