Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Casey Groves to join Redgrave, Hall and McVey in blessing Broadway

I’m so pleased to announce that gifted actor Casey Groves will be joining the previously announced Lynn Redgrave, Carol Hall, J. Mark McVey and others for this year’s Broadway Blessing.

Casey will be performing a scene from Damien, Aldyth Morris’ one-man play about the life of the Belgium-born priest who ministered to the lepers of the Hawaiian island, Molokai, before dying of leprosy in 1889 at the age of 49. Fr. Damien will be elevated to sainthood by Pope Benedict this fall.

I’ve been fortunate to see Casey perform Damien several times and each time has been a blessing. It is a beautiful play, beautifully performed about a life beautifully lived. I interviewed Casey about his decades-long devotion to this work and to his craft for my book Working on the Inside: The Spiritual Life Through the Eyes of Actors.

Damien is the powerful story of a man who went where no priest would go -- to a rock of an island surrounded by forbidding cliffs and pounding surf, a “place without sunset,” where lepers were shipped by the board of health to die. It is graphic -- Father Damien describes the lepers’ “maggot-bloated sores” -- and it is transcendent. He copes “by remembering those worm-infested ulcers are the wounds of Christ.”

Casey will be performing Damien around the country this fall and winter to coincide with Father Damien’s canonization. For information, visit caseygroves.com.

Broadway Blessing, now in its 13th year, is an interfaith service of song, dance and story that brings the theatre community together every September to ask God’s blessing on the new season. It is free and reservations are not needed. Please join us at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street.

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