Roll Over Jehovah!

Roll Over Jehovah! is a rip-roaring musical telling of the story of humanity in two acts. Following the untimely death of the composer, we want to revive the show, which received rave reviews when staged at the New End Theatre (2000). We plan a presentation of show highlights at Jackson's Lane Arts Centre on May 17th. We are inviting professionals with a view to finding a new producer.

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    Roll Over Jehovah!

    Seeking funding for
    Campaign type
    Flexible Funding

    In the beginning...was The Bet

    Roll Over Jehovah! is a musical show telling the story of humanity's development from the Garden of Eden to the present day – in two acts.

    Lucifer and Jehovah agree on a bet: Jehovah believes humanity will use free-will wisely, Lucifer predicts chaos. If Lucifer wins, he gets to be the next Creator. The show plays out well-known biblical stories, characters, and historical events, often in a darkly humorous vein but sometimes with great emotional force, demonstrating the human struggle with the forces of good and evil. Jehovah repeatedly bends the rules to avoid losing the wager. Lucifer becomes increasingly frustrated and gradually reveals his more sinister persona. As humankind progresses to the modern secular state where Lucifer has apparently won the bet, Jehovah's right-hand archangel Gabriel finds that Jehovah's methods are not always squeaky clean. Realising that the battle of good against evil is a sham, where neither antagonist can claim the right to hold sway, Gabriel looks for a third way to resolve the matter.

    The songs are often rooted in satire, and the show is a treasury of lively singalong melodies as well as several emotional ballads.

    A small beginning for a helluva BIG concept 

    Roll over Jehovah! began life in a terraced house in Oxford in the early 1970s. The show was originally planned as a school production by Theolyn Cortens and her husband  Will Shaman, but it soon became obvious that the idea had greater potential and they were subsequently joined by Tim Jarman, Will’s brother, as scriptwriter.

    It was conceived as a homage to the medieval mystery play, with a view its being performed with a minimal set in a variety of settings. The only constraint was that there should be an elevated area on stage representing heaven, where Jehovah and Lucifer interacted, and a lower stage representing the human world.

    The Book of Mormon meets The Life of Brian, with a side order of The Rocky Horror Show

    The show was entered in Cameron Mackintosh's Quest For New Musicals in 1994, where it was selected as one of the top twenty out of over two hundred submissions. Unfortunately, the Quest ran out of funding before finding an outright winner, but the team were sufficiently encouraged to seek the help of a producer.

    In 2000, Roll Over Jehovah! eventually sprang into the world to much acclaim at the New End Theatre, Hampstead, in a production by Adrian Hilton with choreography by Wayne Sleep. Lucifer was played by Richard Swerrun (Joseph – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) played Lucifer, and Thor Kristensson (Jean Valjean - Les Miserables) as Jehovah. 

    The show opened to rave reviews. But in the second week of the run London theatre was blighted by the petrol strike and audience figures across the city plummeted. This meant the production did not recoup initial expenditure. Unfortunately, a second staging never came to pass.

    Prophecy…the Second Coming 2025?

    A petrol strike didn't stop us dreaming about another life for our show, and we continued to develop further material based on our experience with the New End production.

    After Will's untimely death in 2021 the surviving authors decided his fine work should have the chance to shine again. We have revised the script and added songs not originally included, intending to reach a new and wider audience.

    Author biographies

    Theolyn Cortens was born into a nonconformist family in which agnosticism jostled with Theosophy. She was fascinated by the competition between religious dogmas and joined the Buddhist Society when she was fourteen. She has a BA Honours degree in Philosophy and Comparative Religion. Her Masters dissertation explored angelology in Jewish mysticism and she has published several books on this topic. She also writes poetry. Since an original idea in the 1970s, she has been the overall architect of Roll Over Jehovah!

    Tim Jarman studied English Literature at Oxford, where he narrowly escaped a career in academia, and then programmed computers for a living. His interests include philosophy, world history, esoterica of all kinds, and all manifestations of the Creative, especially music, poetry and drama. He is a published poet and short story writer, and is currently in negotiations for the publication of his first novel. Roll Over Jehovah! is a natural expression of his belief that life is a miraculous and joyful thing, and the world might be a better place if more people noticed

    Will Shaman mimed singing and playing music while watching Oh Boy! on television at the age of five. In his teens, he worked with his father writing and performing humorous songs to great critical acclaim. For most of his life he worked professionally as a designer (handmade wallpapers, books, websites, you name it ...). The task of writing the songs for Roll Over Jehovah! was a perfect vehicle for his strong desire to prick the balloons of dogma, both religious and political. Sadly, Will died in October 2021, but his music lives on.

    In Memoriam: Will Shaman Creative Soul 1956 – 2021

    The registrar kindly agreed to include 'creative soul' as Will's occupation on his death certificate! This extraordinarily talented fellow is sorely missed by family and friends.

    Will was a self-taught musician and a gifted songwriter (as well as being gifted in visual arts and design – some of the wallpapers he designed in early youth are held at the V&A). He only began to realise his endless capacity for writing brilliant lyrics in his early thirties.  He could easily pen acerbic, satirical songs, often parodying well-known musical styles. But he could also conjure exquisite melodies from the ether for his heart-breaking ballads: Act 2's 'Death is Not Something to Fear' is just one example.

    When Roll over Jehovah! is back on stage we suspect Will won’t RIP but will do his two-step shuffle in the aisles.

    Visit the website: for lots more background, songs, synopsis and so old biblical texts, this is a long story!

    raised of £2,000.00 goal
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    Become a (Roll Over) Jehovah's "Witness":
    - A digital Certificate I Witnessed for Jehovah
    - Your name will be recorded a ‘Witness’ on the website


    Become a Prophet for Roll Over Jehovah:
    - A digital Certificate I Prophesied Jehovah’s Second Coming
    - Your name as a ‘Prophet’ on the website
    - 1 x mp3 of Will, the songwriter, singing Cain’s song Protect & Survive


    Become a Saint:
    - A digital Certificate of Beatitude
    - Your name as a ‘Saint’ on the website
    - Get an mp3 of the songwriter, Will, singing Cain’s song Protect & Survive
    - Also get an mp3 of Will singing I'm God


    Become an Angel:
    - Digital Certificate of initiation into the Celestial Hierarchies
    - Your name as an ‘Angel’ on the website
    - Get two mp3s of the songwriter Will singing Cain’s song Protect & Survive and I’m God
    - Get an mp3 of the songwriter's daughter, Gudrun Getz, singing Filled with Angels


    Become an Apostle: ONLY 12 AVAILABLE! (Obviously....)
    - Receive a Laminated Certificate declaring you as a Dedicated Follower of Jehovah’s Second Coming authenticated by the authors
    - Your name as an ‘Apostle’ on the website
    - Attend the presentation on 17th May Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre, Highgate
    - Get 4 x mp3s:
    Songwriter Will singing Cain’s song Protect & Survive
    Will singing I’m God
    Songwriter's daughter, Gudrun Getz, singing Filled with Angels
    Gudrun and Thor Kristinsson singing Death Is Not Something To Fear

    (10 remaining out of 12)