The Gospel at Colonus will complete the Public Theater's summer season at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre. The musical, which retells Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus in the context of a black Pentecostal church service with a gospel score, features a book and lyrics by Lee Breuer and music by Bob Telson.
The cast will include Rev. Dr. Earl F. Miller as The Messenger, The Blind Boys of Alabama as Oedipus, The Legendary Soul Stirrers (Willie Rogers, Ben Odom, and Gene Stewart) as Choragos, Wren T. Brown as Theseus, Greta Oglesby as Antigone, Shari Addison as Ismene, J.D. Steele as Choir Director, Tina Fabrique as Soloist, Jeff Young as Soloist, Sam Butler, Jr. as Balladeer, Jay Caldwell as Creon, Kevin Davis as Polyneices, Carolyn Johnson-White as Choir Soloist, and Josie Johnson as Chorus.
As with the Public's other offerings in Central Park, free tickets (two per person) will be distributed at the Delacorte Theater beginning at 12:00 PM on the day of the show. Tickets are also available via a mobile lottery through the TodayTix app and an in-person lottery at the Public Theater's main campus at 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets will also be distributed on September 5 at Brooklyn Central Library and September 7 at Harlem School of the Arts. Reserved seating is available with a $75 or $150 tax-deductible donation, which can be made by calling 212-967-7555.
The work premiered in 1983 at Brooklyn Academy of Music with a production that starred Morgan Freeman, Carl Lumbly, Jevetta Steele, and Robert Earl Jones. This production won the 1984 Obie Award for Best Musical and was filmed for broadcast on PBS. In 1985, the work was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Gospel at Colonus returned to New York in 1988 for a brief Broadway run with Freeman and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama; Breuer received a Tony nomination for his book. The new revival will mark the first time the piece has played New York City since a 2004 Apollo Theatre production that starred Charles S. Dutton and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
The production is co-presented by the Public Theater and the Onassis Foundation USA. Additional funding is made possibly by the JKW Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the American Express Foundation.