The first major revival of Biblically-inspired musical Godspell in over 30 years opens tonight at the Liverpool Playhouse, following previews from 14 February and ahead of a 14-week national tour that continues until the end of June. The revival stars young heartthrobs Daniel MacPherson and Jonathan Wilkes, who will alternate in the pivotal roles of Jesus and Judas.

A modern-day song-and-dance recreation of the gospels, the musical opens with John the Baptist gathering up followers and concludes with Jesus' crucifixion in a junkyard. The score includes such famous songs as "Day by Day", "All Good Gifts" and "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord".

Godspell first opened Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in May 1971, before clocking up over 2,000 performances on Broadway. Later that year, it opened in the West End in a production that starred David Essex. The musical was adapted for the 1973 film (poster pictured), starring Victor Garber.

Australian MacPherson is well-known to soap fans as Joel in Neighbours. British pop singer Wilkes was most recently seen performing alongside Robbie Williams at the Royal Albert Hall.

The new UK production of Godspell is directed by Scott Schwartz, who directed the US tour of the musical last years and whose other recent projects include Tick, Tick...Boom and Bat Boy on Broadway. The production is designed by Hugh Vanstone, with musical arrangements by Alex Lacamoire, musical direction by Steve Parry, choreography by Dennis Wonder, video design by Jon Driscoll and costume design by Patricia Grant.

Godspell was originally conceived by John-Michael Tebelak, with music by three-time Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz, who has written some new lyrics for this current production.

Following Liverpool, the musical continues to Edinburgh, Stoke, Cardiff, Bath, Woking, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Wimbledon, Torquay, Newcastle and Birmingham with a West End transfer on the cards in summer 2002.

- by Terri Paddock