Judd Apatow, Nick Davis to Produce ‘Godspell’ Doc on Legendary 1972 Toronto Production

Judd Apatow and Nick Davis are producing a documentary about the legendary 1972 Toronto production of the musical “Godspell” that featured several future stars before they made it big, including Victor Garber, Gilda Radner and Martin Short.

The Stephen Schwartz musical, which consists of comedic reenactments of Jesus’ parables from the Gospel of Matthew, originally premiered Off Broadway in 1971 and was brought to Toronto a year later. Future six-time Emmy nominee Garber played Jesus in that production a year before reprising the role in the 1973 film adaptation shot in New York — and that was only the beginning of the stacked cast.

“Godspell” was also the first professional job for “Only Murders in the Building” star Short and “Schitt’s Creek” Emmy winner Eugene Levy, who were college friends. The Toronto production was also an early job for the likes of “Saturday Night Live” legend Radner, Don Scardino, musical director Paul Shaffer, Jayne Eastwood and future SCTV stars Andrea Martin and Dave Thomas.

It was that production that led Lorne Michaels to hire Radner as one of the original cast members of “SNL” and got Martin and Levy spots as founding members of Second City Toronto. Collectively, members of Toronto’s “Godspell” production would go on to be nominated for over 40 Emmys, winning three Oscars, nine Emmys, six Grammys and three Tony Awards. Four have also been awarded the Order of Canada.

“As a bonafide comedy nerd, I’ve long wondered what exactly brought that amazing group of people together to produce not just a fantastic theatrical event, but what came after: Second City Toronto, SCTV, and of course ‘Saturday Night Live,'” Apatow said in a statement. “None of that would have happened in the way that it did without the Toronto ‘Godspell.’”

Using never-before-seen footage and interviews, the documentary will explore not only the production but also the local scene that the musical was created in, tracing the roots of one of the most influential movements in the history of comedy.

“It was truly like a kind of Paris in the ’20s of the comedy revolution that was to come, and listening to these tapes is like being a fly on the wall when history is being made,” Davis said. “Who would have thought that so much divinely inspired comedy would come from this one production of a musical about the life of Jesus — in Toronto?”

The documentary is written by Davis and Jane Mendelsohn. Davis, Sue Turley of XRM Media and Tom Powers of Open Door Co. will produce alongside executive producers Apatow, Stephanie Hanson, Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley.

CAA, which represents Davis, is handling worldwide sales with UTA.

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