Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now? –  Godspell’s Original cast and Creators

By Carol de Giere

A new book on Godspell with Foreword by Stephen Schwartz

This website page serves as “Appendix A” to the book  The Godspell Experience. It answers the “Where Are They Now?” question for the original cast of Godspell and other key people. Fans of the show are often curious about what happened to those people over the past four decades.

Read about the lives of Herb Braha, Peggy Gordon, Joanne Jonas, Robin Lamont, Sonia Manzano, Gilmer McCormick, and Stephen Nathan from the original Godspell cast. Also find remembrances of original cast members Lamar Alford, David Haskell, and Jeffrey Mylett, and details about creative team members.

To discover how a group of creative young people developed the musical Godspell in the early 1970s, please see the complete book The Godspell Experience.

Stephen Schwartz (Godspell’s composer)

PHOTO: Robin Lamont, author Carol de Giere, and Stephen Schwartz.
Robin Lamont, Carol de Giere, Stephen Schwartz December 2014

A fan once asked Stephen Schwartz if he ever had to get a basic job doing something like delivering pizza to tide him over while creating. He explained that he’d been a camp counselor and music director over summers of high school and college, and then he got a job after college at RCA that lasted for two years. He noted,
“When I first came to New York, I did make a bargain with myself that if I wasn’t supporting myself as a musician by the time I was 25, I would go back to school, get my psychology degree, and become a therapist… [but] shortly after leaving RCA, I did Godspell and didn’t have to worry about supporting myself anymore.”

After Godspell, Schwartz wrote the scores for Pippin, The Magic Show, Wicked, and many other musicals. Read Defying Gravity: the Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked to explore the colorful world of this artist.

Other sites:
www.stephenschwartz.com official site
www.theschwartzscene.com newsletter
www.musicalschwartz.com fan site

John-Michael Tebelak

Check back later for a separate story on Tebelak.

CAST MEMBERS:

Lamar Alford, David Haskell, Jeffrey Mylett
See the blog post: Remembering Lamar Alford, David Haskell, and Jeffrey Mylett.

Herb Braha

Herb Braha passed away in February 2016. An original cast member in the 1971 productions of Godspell at La MaMa and Cherry Lane, Braha had continued performing in Godspell for over a year and was then successful in getting work in television and motion pictures. In 1982 he founded a successful business supplying materials for costumes. His company provided costume-related materials for stage productions, operas, and movies, including the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Ironman, and many others. Braha lived in the Los Angeles area.

Peggy Gordon

Peggy Gordon was a member of the original Godspell cast and she also wrote the music for “By My Side,” a song in the show. Since then, she has enjoyed a varied career in theater, publishing, television, film and recordings. Some of her writing/composing credits are as follows: She co-wrote the long-running Off-Broadway comedy, Taboo in Revue, winner of the Manhattan Association of Cabaret’s Best Musical Comedy Award with fellow Godspell alum, Robin Lamont. She co-wrote the book, music and lyrics for the new musical comedy, Mating Habits of the Urban Mammal, with Michael Leeds, a Tony-nominated Broadway director. This show has been successfully produced in Boston, Miami and Atlanta.

Gordon wrote the politically satirical book Rotten to the Core, which lampooned the mayoral administration of New York’s Ed Koch. It was co-published by Harper-Collins Books and Eclipse Comics. For TV she conceived and wrote The Rock Bottom Awards for the Best and Worst in Bad Taste for Viacom and HBO’s Comedy Central.

Her compositions can be heard on the soap operas Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and Another World. Upcoming projects include the poignant comedy The Pertinacity of Love, a play slated for Broadway, and the eccentric comedy Bad Miracle, Gordon’s film that won the New York Independent Film & Video Festival’s Best Screenplay award. She lives in New York City

joanne-jonas-sm1Joanne Jonas

After Godspell (original stage show and movie), Jonas continued her work with acting, singing, and dancing on Broadway. She appeared in Candide as the old lady and Death of Salesman with George C. Scott, and other shows. She was in Lampoon, a George Schlatter TV pilot, and hundreds of television commercials.

In 1977 Jonas made a major change. “Godspell had a very spiritual effect on me,” she says. “So much that I shifted my focus to sharing the essence of ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ with people in a nonreligious way.” Together with other associates, she contributed to the formation of HearthMath, a training and technology organization established to help people manage stress for a higher quality life. She is married, is a mother, and lives in California where she been working as a graphic artist/desktop publisher for over 25 years at HeartMath. www.heartmath.com

Robin Lamont

Lamont also performed in all early productions of Godspell: the college production, Café La MaMa, Cherry Lane, and the movie version. After Godspell, Lamont starred on Broadway as “Sandy” in Grease and performed in Stephen Schwartz’s show Working. Her singing can be heard on the cast albums for Godspell and Working. On the side, she responded to an ad from a company hiring actors as private investigators. That led to her interest in law. She earned a law degree and served as a district attorney in Westchester County, New York, for many years. She is married and has two grown children. She is currently an award-winning novelist. Read more at The Kinship Series.

Sonia Manzano of the original Godspell cast and Maria of Sesame StreetSonia Manzano

Sonia Manzano had a lucky show business star hanging over her, and had no reason to return to college. During one summer performance of Godspell, a talent agent came to the show and afterward gave her his card. She signed with him and in her first audition was accepted into the cast of Sesame Street, where she played “Maria” for many years. She has continued performing on stage, including in The Exonerated, The Vagina Monologues and Love, Loss and What I Wore.

As a writer for Sesame Street she has earned fifteen Emmy Awards to date. She writes children’s picture books and has begun to write young adult novels. See

Manzano is also a public speaker. TheRevolutionOfEvelynSerrano.com and www.soniamanzano.com

Gilmer McCormic of the original Godspell castGilmer McCormick and Stephen Reinhardt

McCormick was cast in the Godspell film and continued performing with the stage production off and on in New York City for a number of years. She and music director, Stephen Reinhardt, married on February 12, 1972, on a Saturday morning, and had their reception after the matinee performance of Godspell so the cast could attend. In 1976 they had a son, Brian, the first Godspell child. In 1979, with their second child, Eve, on the way, they moved to Los Angeles. Gilmer has pursued acting, directing, and teaching acting.

Stephen, after playing in the Los Angeles production (fix spacing here) of Evita, was hired as music supervisor for General Hospital, and has spent the last twenty years as music supervisor for Days of Our Lives.

In 2010 the couple moved to Louisville, Kentucky, Gilmer’s hometown. She recently returned to the stage in Louisville.

Stephen Nathan

Right out of Godspell, Stephen Nathan was cast in the movie version of 1776 as the courier. As an actor, he worked on both coasts before settling in Los Angeles, where he acted in film and television projects until he began writing and producing in the late 1970s. In addition to developing feature films at all the major studios, Nathan has written and/or produced more than 300 episodes of television. From 2005 – 2017 he served as executive director and writer for the popular FOX TV series Bones.

OTHER KEY PEOPLE

Nina Faso

In 1971, Nina Faso assisted her friend, John-Michael Tebelak, in staging the musical Godspell at Café La MaMa and at Cherry Lane, where she served as production stage manager. (See The Godspell Experience for details).

For several years after the show opened, Faso worked with Edgar Lansbury and Joe Beruh, directing and organizing productions of Godspell in Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and on the first national tour. Her brother Laurie remembers how she was “entrusted by John-Michael Tebelak and Stephen Schwartz with protecting and maintaining the soul of Godspell” as she directed productions. She also directed the production in Paris and later supervised the transfer of Godspell to Broadway.

Faso helped take the Rocky Horror Show from Los Angeles to Broadway in her role as assistant director.

In the mid 1970s, Stephen Schwartz invited her to co-adapt and co-direct the musical Working for the Goodman Theater in Chicago and on Broadway. She also co-wrote the teleplay of Working for the PBS series American Playhouse, and worked with Schwartz again on the workshop production of the musical Rags.

She has directed numerous regional productions, has authored and directed a children’s television special, The Fable Company, and has co-produced/co-directed the film Sing for Your Life. She lives in southern California. Among her other directing credits are the musicals Just Once and Is It Just Me, Or Is It Hot In Here? which enjoyed long runs in New York and Los Angeles, respectively. She lives in southern California.

Edgar Lansbury

Over his long career, Lansbury built up extensive credits producing musicals and plays, films, and television shows. The company of Lansbury/Duncan/Beruh produced Godspell around the world in the early 1970s, the Godspell film, and the Broadway production. Lansbury also produced the hit Broadway musical The Magic Show, along with Beruh and Ivan Reitman. He also produced a revival of the musical Gypsy that starred his sister, Angela.

Lansbury was originally a scenic designer and has been a painter for many years. He is married to fellow artist Louise Peabody, and they have a home in the Hamptons as well as an apartment in New York City.

Joseph Beruh

Joe Beruh’s credit list includes many Broadway shows, touring productions, Off-Broadway shows, and films. Although he had started out acting and sometimes directed, his primary role was as a producer or manager, often in partnership with Edgar Lansbury. He married actress Kathleen Murray, who died a few years before Godspell opened. He passed away in 1989.

Jay Hamburger

The lyricist for “By My Side,” Jay Hamburger has been acting, directing, and producing shows in the United States and Canada since his graduation from Carnegie Mellon University. He also taught nearly all aspects of theater in both countries to children, adults and seniors. He founded Theatre In the Raw in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1994 and continues to serve as its artistic director. www.theatreintheraw.ca

[Copyright by Carol de Giere, 2014]