September 4-9, 2018

Photo by Melissa Gaul

"An exhilarating musical celebration" - The New York Times

Co-presented by Onassis Foundation USA and The Public Theater

Book, Original Lyrics & Direction by Lee Breuer
Original Music, Adapted Lyrics & Music Direction by Bob Telson
Produced by Sharon Levy/Dovetail Productions, Inc.
Associate Producer, Mabou Mines

THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS, one of the most powerful, soul-stirring shows in theater history, makes a triumphant return to New York, lighting up the Delacorte Theater this September.

Set in the context of a black Pentecostal service, THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS is an exuberant re-telling of Sophocles’ classic Oedipus at Colonus. With the ground-shaking thunder of a gospel revival meeting, this Obie-winning adaptation celebrates the 2400-year-old myth of Oedipus’ redemption with a rousing gospel and blues score. Conceived, adapted and directed by MacArthur Genius Grant winner Lee Breuer, with music composed, arranged and directed by Academy Award nominee Bob Telson, THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS is a one-of-a-kind show featuring more than 40 powerhouse voices including gospel legends the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Original Soul Stirrers.

THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS is made possible by JKW Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the American Express Foundation.

Free tickets are available at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, through the TodayTix digital lottery, borough distributions, and by in-person lottery at The Public Theater at Astor Place.

With a donation of $75 or $150 to THE PUBLIC THEATER, you can reserve a seat to THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS

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Bob Telson: When I began working on the music for The Gospel at Colonus more than 35 years ago, my father, whom I idolized, had just died after a long illness. Lee’s brilliant idea of setting Sophocles’ meditation on a “happy death” in the Black Church afforded me the opportunity to express the combination of loss and relief that I then felt. Every night at BAM in 1983 the choir would begin the show singing “Don’t go away, oh father, won’t you stay… Live where you can, be as happy as you can,” and I would play the piano with tears in my eyes. Thirty-five years later I am as “happy as I can be” to once again perform Colonus with so many of the great singers, musicians, and actors that we started our journey with back then, and to once again hear the audience sing along with us in the closing ode, “There is no end.”

Lee Breuer:  When I was about 15, Perry Como held the #1 slot on the Hit Parade. About a week later it was The Chords with “Sh-Boom.” The world was waking up to R&B. Where was this new musical culture coming from? Many years later I was to learn that it came from the Black Church, that R&B was the secular wing of Gospel. It has taken me a lifetime for my appreciation to burrow through the secular to The Faith, to begin to understand its great gift of a culture for my time. Thank you, all you dear friends who have helped me see—for to see is to hear.

Initiation to The Faith began in collaboration with the superb gospel singers in our Colonus BAM production 35 years ago, and we are grateful to have, with so many of them, the opportunity to pass on the Word one more time at the Delacorte to a new generation. Bob and I especially wish to thank Karen Brooks Hopkins and the Onassis Foundation for making this revival possible.

Read Lee Breuer's letter on THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS from 1983