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Harry Chapin's Cotton Patch Gospel
The Next Stage
San Francisco, CA
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Harry Chapin's Cotton Patch Gospel
Just in time for the holidays, Custom Made proudly brings Harry Chapins (Taxi, Cats in the Cradle) Cotton Patch Gospel to the Next Stage (attached to the historic Trinity Church).  

Cotton Patch is a progressive and musically joyous look at the Jesus story through a very modern lens.  Using 26 songs, one amazing actor, three gorgeous singers, and a bluegrass band, Cotton Patch Gospel is for everyone who wonders if the peace and love promised by the gospels is still possible in our modern world..

Cotton Patch Gospel premiered at the Lamb's Theater in New York City on October 21, 1981. Written by Tom Key and Russell Treyz, and with music and lyrics by Harry Chapin, Cotton Patch Gospel adapted Clarence Jordan's "Cotton Patch" versions of the gospels of Matthew and John for the stage. Though less widely known than the other gospel musicals of its era (Godspell and Jesus Christ, Superstar), Cotton Patch Gospel is an underappreciated gem of musical theater.

Between 1968 and 1973, Dr. Clarence Jordan, a Southern Baptist minister, published four books where he translated the New Testament into colloquial Southern language. These "Cotton Patch" versions were brought to the attention of Tom Key, an Atlanta actor and playwright, when he was contemplating a play that would transplant the story of Jesus into the mid-20th century American South. In Cotton Patch Jesus Davidson was born in the town of Gainesville, Georgia, and was laid in an apple crate. He was baptized in the Chattahoochee River, he preached to a crowd of thousands on Stone Mountain, and he met his end in Atlanta. In between, he encounters followers, cynics, and an institutionalized, conservative Church that rejects his simple message of love and human compassion.

With Jordan's versions as his source material, Key, together with Russell Treyz, wrote the book for the stage play. The music for the production was written and composed by the legendary Harry Chapin, in what would eventually prove to be his final musical work. In all, Chapin produced 26 songs for the show, many of them in a bluegrass style befitting the play's setting. Chapin finished his contribution in June 1981, and was unexpectedly killed in an automobile accident on July 16, 1981.  

Custom Made produced Chapins song-cycle Lies and Legends earlier this decade, and is thrilled to be showcasing again one of the greatest artists of the late 20th century, who left us far too early.


The Next Stage
Gough and Bush Sts.
San Francisco, CA 94109
United States


Arts > Theatre

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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