Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'll Never be in Godspell Again

I’ll never be in Godspell again. I’m sitting here, on a rainy afternoon at the Jersey shore, listening to Day by Day from the 1970’s musical Godspell and crying when I really should be working. I’m on my 5th listen.

I was in Godspell in college. It was my second or third play ever. I was ecstatic to be in it. It was a musical! I got to sing and dance! How much better does it get than that? And not only that, I was chosen to sing Day by Day! The best song in the show. The best one! (Though I secretly wanted to sing By My Side too.)

I sang Day by Day proudly, using sign language (for the two deaf people that showed up for the one month run of the show.) I still remember how to sign that damn song. Whenever I meet someone deaf or even hearing impaired, apropos of nothing, I start signing Day by Day, Oh dear Lord, three things I pray” and they think I’m a religious fanatic or just a nut.

The only thing that marred my joyous little performance was a run-in I had with Jesus. Glenn. Glenn Funkhauser. Yep. That was his name. I haven’t thought about that name in years. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning but I remember Glenn Funkhauser’s name…interesting. Anyway, he played Jesus and he was a haughty, self-involved diva of a Jesus. He gave a Jesus a bad name.

At the end of each show, we re-enacted the Last Supper, where we said goodbye to our fair leader. It was a very teary climax and we just loved it. As college kids studying theater, we were just teeming with emotion, so earnest. Our emotional cup runneth over.

So Jesus would walk up to each one of us, tap us on the back, we’d rise and have our own personal heartfelt goodbye with the Lord Jesus Christ, Glenn Funkhauser.

On one particularly emotional night, I leapt up and hugged him with all of my might, crying my little eyes out. He whispered in my ear, “Don’t anticipate. You got up before I tapped you on the shoulder.”

I could have died. Jesus just critiqued me during my most vulnerable moment ever! I wanted to deck the Lord right then and there. How dare he direct me in the middle of a show?! Who did he think he was? God?

After the show, I went up to Glenn “Jesus” Funkhauser and told him to kiss my ass hard. I was livid! I felt spiritually violated.

But other than that, Godspell was a sweet memory during a sweet time. And I’ll never be in it again. I’ll never sing Day by Day again in front of a restless audience. (If you say I could be in the show again if I wanted, you’re missing the point. It was that time, that energy, that opportunity, those people - even that diva of a Jesus. It was that beautiful little glory.)

One actor came up to me after a show one night and said something about “goose bumps” when I sang my song. I thought he meant I gave him goose bumps but he clarified before I gushed too much. He said, “No, you give yourself goose bumps when you sing that song. I can see them all over your arms. I’m standing right next to you.” I wasn’t as flattered but I knew he was right. It’s not every day you get to sing to God so simply, with all of your heart. Oh, time is so stupidly precious.

Time for a 6th listen. I haven’t sobbed the memory out of me yet. I don’t get paid for this melancholy, man.

To Glenn Funkhauser, wherever you are: I hope you know that I'm a practicing Satanist because of you. I eat kittens now, Glenn, kittens!

Day by Day
Day by Day
Oh Dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by Day

Many of the original cast members, with Robin Lamont singing (4 of the 10 have died):

Cilla Black (she's great but I like Lamont better for this song.)


Jules said...

I didn't know you sang. I did too. Majored in it. I love the music for Godspell. Just about every song kicks ass. Day by Day is definitely one of the best though!

Joseph said...

I am convinced that the reason I believe in God today is because of this song.