Godspell is a musical based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, transposed into a contemporary urban setting, with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak.
The show originated in 1970 as Tebelak's master's thesis project, under the direction of Lawrence Carra, at Carnegie Mellon University. Most of the score's lyrics were from the Episcopal Hymnal, set to music by the cast members. Tebelak then directed it, with much of the student cast, for a two-week, ten-performance run at New York's experimental venue Cafe La MaMa, opening February 24, 1971. It caught the eye of producers Edgar Lansbury and Joseph Beruh, who wanted to open it off-Broadway.