Tuesday, July 07, 2009


My mind's on GODSPELL lately. Watching the film, looking up the scripture passages, playing tunes on the piano, reading up on the show's history.

Met with Sarah Rodgers a couple weeks ago, who's directing the PT production next spring. She told me to check out the Canadian premiere of the show, a landmark in Toronto theatre history. Turns out the cast featured (before they were famous)...

...Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, and Victor Garber - who reprised his performance as Jesus in the film version. Tom Scardino took over the role of Jesus in Toronto before playing Him on Broadway, then founding the Second City troupe in Toronto with three other original Toronto cast members - Derek McGrath, Gilda Radner and Jayne Eastwood.

By the time the show closed...

Eugene Levy was Jesus, and Dave Thomas had joined the cast.

I think Mike Myers was probably in the audience.

The musical director for the original Toronto show, who ended up playing piano on the movie soundtrack? U of Toronto philosophy and sociology student...

Paul Shaffer.

The sax player in the Toronto production?

Howard "Lord Of The Rings" Shore.

The very first version of the show was a student project at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. That cast took it to Cafe La Mama in NYC, opening February 24, 1971, then played the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village - which was the other possible venue considered for my play REFUGE OF LIES when it ran in NYC last fall. Dang!

Only one song from the original production stayed in the show once Carnegie-Mellon alum Steven Schwartz was brought in to re-tool the score - "By My Side," with lyrics by...

Jay Hamburger. 

Who now lives in Vancouver, and founded Theatre In The Raw.  I'm curious to know how Jay was involved in that historical original production.  Ought to look him up and find out more...

Thanks to godspell.ca for facts and fotos

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