Godspell’s link to same-sex rights

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It’s no secret that religion and the gay community can make strange bedfellows. Add an award-winning playwright into the mix and you not only get a musical based on the gospel of Saint Matthew but also a same-sex relationship that was viewed by many as an early effort to define the rights of gay couples.

GodspellGodspell, set to play Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre at the end of May, was originally produced in December 1970 by American playwright John-Michael Tebelak (with music by Stephen Schwartz of Wicked fame) and had been created as his masters thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University.

While details are scarce, a life-long member of the Episcopal Church and dramaturge for the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York, Tebelak was also thought to be gay. In 1980 Tebelak was sued by his former “companion” Richard Hannum for more than $4 million. Hannum was represented by famed celebrity divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson.

At the time Mitchelson was quoted in New York magazine saying, “there is no difference whether they are gay or straight. The basis of the lawsuit is the rights people have from living together.”

Pacific Theatre
28 May – 3 July 2010

Jessie Award-winning director Sarah Rodgers takes the helm of the finale to Pacific Theatre’s 2009/2010 season setting this production of Godspell inside an episode of 1970’s sketch comedy show Laugh-In, putting Jesus and Judas alongside Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Dick Martin. A special sing-a-long version of the show will take place on June 1st. Tickets are $17 – $34 available online or by calling 604.731.5518.

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