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On the Phone with God and His Head Writer

#537

(L–R) James Gleason, Sean Hayes, and David Josefsberg in "An Act of God."

Photo by Jim Cox.

It’s not every day that you get on a conference call with God. But He’s easier to get hold of when He has a show coming to the Ahmanson Theatre from January 30 through March 13, 2016. In advance of An Act of God, Center Theatre Group got on the phone with Him on a Friday afternoon, along with playwright and former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart head writer David Javerbaum. Javerbaum, it should be noted, had better reception than God.

In An Act of God, the Almighty takes the form of Emmy Award® winner Sean Hayes in order to answer some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since the beginning of the universe. God is bullish on inhabiting Hayes, whom He called “one of my greatest creations. He is a tremendously funny guy, and I need that as God, because comedy is not my strong suit.” He added that Hayes has some surprises in store for audiences who know him best as the lovable Jack McFarland on Will & Grace. Hayes is “really drunk with power,” said God. “He’s an egotistical megalomaniac, just like me. And he’s a song-and-dance man, which I’ve always aspired to be, metaphorically.”

God comes to L.A. from Broadway, and He is looking forward to entertaining audiences in a city that’s “godless in a whole different way than New York was godless,” He said. “The godlessness in L.A. is purer in some ways” than in New York, and “more out and out contemptuous,” and some new jokes will reflect that change. “It’s the first time God has been allowed within a 20-mile radius of Hollywood in many years,” He added. “It’ll be a combustible event when I come here, especially since so many of My chosen people run the place.”

God has long been a fan of theatre, and musical theatre in particular (though not as big a fan as His son, Jesus Christ Superstar). Javerbaum co-wrote the music for the show Cry-Baby and is an award-winning songwriter himself. But making An Act of God a musical “felt too schticky,” said Javerbaum. Plus, “it didn’t lend itself to musical theatre, especially because it’s basically a one-God show. So there wouldn’t have been many chorus numbers, unless we got people from Heaven and Hell, and the production costs would have been astronomical.”

It’s the first time God has been allowed within a 20-mile radius of Hollywood in many years.

—God

God Himself is a fan of Hamilton, but His favorite playwright remains William Shakespeare. “Shakespeare makes God kind of jealous,” said Javerbaum. “Shakespeare knows people better than God does. I don’t know for a fact, but I gathered through various hints that Shakespeare is rotting in Hell because of jealousy.”

Since God also writes a Twitter account (@TheTweetofGod) and is the author of a book, The Last Testament: A Memoir, and since Javerbaum writes most frequently for television (he’s currently producer of The Late Late Show with James Corden), we asked them to tell us what they love about writing for the theatre. “It’s the essence of a communal artistic experience,” said Javerbaum. “It’s a smaller group of people than watch a TV show, a smaller amount of money than you generally make with a TV show, but the reward is being there and seeing a thousand-some-odd people laughing at your material and going on this journey you prepared for them.”

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