For the first time since 1981, Harry Chapin's musical retelling of the Jesus story, Cotton Patch Gospel, will sing out Off-Broadway. The musical, previewing Nov. 12 for a Nov. 14 opening, will be the first show of the second season for The Melting Pot Theatre Company.
Founded by artistic director Larry Hirschorn and managing director Catherine Dupuis, the Melting Pot got off to a critically acclaimed start last season with the musical, The Portable Pioneer And Prairie Show, and the African-American drama, Home.
First staged for 193 performances at Off-Broadway's Lamb's Theatre (Oct. 1981-April 1982), Cotton Patch Gospel is based on Clarence Jordan's book, The Cotton Patch Version Of Matthew & John. Gospel's songs are by Chapin, its book by Tom Key & Russell Treyz.
Chapin, a well-known folk/pop singer, had several hits ("Taxi," "Cats In The Cradle," "WOLD") before dying in a Long Island car accident. His tunes for Gospel include "I Did It," "Sho' Nuff," "One More Tomorrow," "You Are Still My Boy" and "Jubilation."
Popping up in Melting Pot's Cotton Patch are Mimi Bessette, Samuel D. Cohen, Kevin Fox, John C. Havens, Emily Mikesell (Radio Gals) and Ken Triwush. Danny Peak directs the show, which features sets by Ted Simpson, costumes by Sue Grandy and lighting by Joe Saint. Steve Steiner serves as musical director.
For tickets ($25) and information on Melting Pot's Cotton Patch Gospel at the Theatre at Riverside Church on 120th St., call (212) 279-4200.
-- By David Lefkowitz