Friday, February 4, 2011



Born 4 February, 1955 in Streator, Illinois, John was always an energetic enthusiastic child whose wide-ranging interests and God-given talent for singing made him a family, friend, classmate, and teachers favorite.

John was also blessed with a common sense pragmatism leading his siblings to speculate that he was not related to any of us. He never made things complicated. He loved to make us laugh, and in our laughing, love our lives and our God all the more.

As with all the Ganzer children, John sang church solos and took piano lessons (from Louise Castelli).  He also joined band, following his brother Mark's trail by choosing to learn the Baritone (since he was forever feted to be a first tenor, the contrast seemed a logical fit).

His favorite school subjects were English and History.  Had his acting career not fared as well as it did, he would have become a High School History teacher.  He was always small, owing most likely to the X-rays given at birth.  Were it not for his Uncle
Bill Richardson's keeping abreast of developments in the medical profession, John might not have survived his first year. But Uncle Bill told mom to stop having him x-rayed.

He survived and he thrived. His perseverance was even more diligent than his father Ralph's, and his forward planning was stupendous - an incredible thing to behold, to see a 4th grader plan four years down the road to running for President of the 8th grade middle school council was astonishing - almost as devastating a table run as
Barack Obama made after coming to the forefront of "liberal-democratic" conscienseness after delivering the Democratic Primary Keynote address for John Kerry.  When the Student Council votes were tallied, John and his running mate had garned more than 1,000; his opponent (and good friend, who would follow John into the acting business in New York City, going so far as even to swipe a rent-controlled apartment out from under John's best laid plans) had less than 50.

Having proved to himself he could succeed in politics, John was able to devote all of his free time efforts to studying and perfecting his singing and acting talents.

John had the great and good fortune to attend Barrington Consolidated High School whose legendary performing arts department was begun the the genius Richard C. Johnson.  John kept every one of Dick's hand-written stage notes for every play he was in (that would be twelve
of them!).  John was also in the first high school class that would have the benefit of four full years of Philip Mark's music directorship - the results comparing Christmas and Spring Concerts over the years are flabbergasting.  Phil took the choir programs to heights not even Deadaluas dreamt to fly.

John was also blessed with as talented a group of high school performing artists as has EVER been assembled, and he loved them all, and they all him.  The effervesant Colleen Zenk first befriended him, and embraced him into her arms and under her bossom.  Ditto for Claire Bataille, Chris Limber (the finest Tevyev actor every born, or ever likely to be born), Matthew Ward, and I do all of you others a serious injustice (oh, Mark Parker, Bob Ploch) by ommitting your names. Forgive me, please.

Randy Nolde played as large a role as an adult teacher-mentor as anyone, and John simply loved the man (it was reciprocated). And oh the girls, OH, the girls. They loved him in so many beautiful ways, that my lust for his harem(s) was kind of trashy by way of comparison.  But we shan't forget Janie Kinchloe, Heather (the Wench) Watson, Dawn Duhaime (and her brother Brian).
John was mechanical. He loved to drive. We had a tractor lawn mower that he leapt on, like a dog in heat to his master's leg, and mowed round and round, back and forth all that summer of '67 long.  When he was 14, he asked mom if he could practice driving with her.  She had him (so she thought). "Well, if you can back out of the driveway, I will let you."

Again, he LEAPT at the opportunity. Mom thought that he'd get the wheel moves backwards, but, John hadn't been tractor-mowing for three years to mess up this grand opportunity.  So driving lessons it was, which went swimmingly well, EVEN when he bumped our 1964 Studebaker (the automatic, we got a second one with a clutch, which only John and Papa Ralph could drive - hmm, fancy that!) into the back of a local car dealer's vehicle.  When the police officer came to check the situation out, the dealer just waved him away. "All under control here officer."

Show Boat was a grand triumph, both for John and Chris Limber.  Dick Johnson always picked his plays to fit the talents of his most veteran thesbians.  This was a great match.  The following year, it was Fiddler on the Roof.  Holy smokes, talk about being on fire!

The rest of his senior year was not so triumphant.  All three of the bitches girls he asked out turned him down.  He was in the dumps, but then, things go like that: when you're hot you're hot, when you're not you're not.

He was accepted by the University of Illinois, majoring in Music, minoring in History, keeping the options open. But there was a secret John, that only he most trusted and beloved knew, and Secret John wanted more than anything to do his night club act (a la Mel Torme) on the Johnny Carson show (after all, John and older brother Mark used to spend hours practicing their wit, accents, cadences, emphases, etc, into the reel to reel tape recorder their beloved Uncle Floyd had given the family on one of his usual Crown Jeweled Christmas present days).

John withdrew from the U. of I. after one year (1973-74, the Year of the Streaker) and returned to Barrington where he managed a PLITT Theatre for a little more than a year.  He also performed in Summer Stock in Milwaukee and Indiannapolis, making ever more contacts who would later help and support him so much when his time came to invade New York City.

Well, the PLITT thing wasn't getting him any nearer to Johnny Carson (especially since Johnny C. had pulled up out of NYC to go broadcast on the left coast - generally a wrong move for a bona fide mid-western kid with a quick mind, a compassionate soul, and a never-ending cornucopia of God-given talent with the self-discpline to develop that talent). So, John up and left for the Big Apple, where for the first several years, he made far more money cleaning toilets and decorating fake Christmas Trees at Macy's than he did from his acting craft.  He also got work as a singing waiter at the most excellent restuarant, Panache.

But John always had an advantage, a HUGE advantage over about 90% of the actors he ever auditioned with: He WANTED the part, always. And so, he started to get work, and as is always the case, work begets more work, and he landed his best gig ever, stage manager for Joseph and the Amazing Colored Dream Coat, where he was responsible for eleven understudy parts.  This shortly led to a lead, which he never relinquished, performing in all 743 consecutive performances, with Anthony Gibb, and the dork (Donnie Osmond?) from the stupid 60's TV show, The Brady Bunch.

Will never understand high school girls. Who WOULDN'T want to go to senior prom with this good lookin' stud muffin.  Hell, I'd have gone if only he had asked, and I have let him get to second base, too!

Your loss ladies, your inestimable loss.

Just try to imagine how much fun this would have been for this lusty, holy trio!  The experience of a lifetime, and memories to last even longer.


Maybe the reason all those other bitches fine and upstanding moral young ladies slapped you down was because YOU WOULDN'T PUT OUT!  YA THINK.

HELL, I am getting more pissed off by the second, and to think, I never forced myself, or even thought about it, on any one of them.

What Kind of Fool am I?

Well, this is about the wrap. Except for the time I was back from school, a 172 pound college graduate and John was his stylish 115-pound self, when I casually said, "So, you wanna wrassle?"

Little mutha dropped to the floor - "You got top" he said, and pinned my flabby white ass in under 8 seconds.  HOLY SHEE-IT!  It was payback for all those years I paid him $0.35 every week to deliver 30% of the papers on the streets with the only two dogs what ever bit me (my weekly take was $8.50 - so, John was actually entitled to about ... $2.55 each week).  Good lesson young brother of mine - You're family will screw you when it comes to money.  Take THAT to Actor's Equity Council and Bite On It.  (Which, btw, I'm quite sure, he did).

The perfect way to end this would be to show John and Colleen Dewhurst. Sadly, that picture was never taken. Instead, here he is shaking hands, in Ford's Theatre, shortly before he was hit by The Virus, shaking the hand of the most calculating draft-dodger Communist who ever swore the oath "To uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both domestic and foreign.)

With Love, John - to You, and All You Loved.

John would be the first to tell you that this former card-carrying member of the Communist Party, who freely finked on his brother actors during the Scoundrel time of the McCarthy HUAC Hearings - son of an alcoholic father and highly motivated mother, Reagan learned that by renouncing all the causes of his youth he could convert his boyish good looks into lots of money, power, and political prestige.  And he never once, in all his terms in office said the word, "AIDS," as if,  in not brining its name to the light of day, he could save his own son from it.
And if you two had it all to do over again,
A cosmic mulligan, as it were,
Please, oh please, just this one thing I ask of you,
That you would not do one single thing differently than you did,
That you love and adore when we were the kid that we would once again grow up to be,
Light, effervesant, free,
Star dust - from here, the present, to the end of time, and back to the beginning again -
Unbounded and unbounding, confined only by our own imaginings - we come back
Again, and again, and again, and again.


From the Starlite
Summer Stock Repetoire
Company in Indianapolis,

Royale Theatre, (1/27/1982 - 9/4/1983)

Total Previews:

Jan 27, 1982

Sep 4, 1983

Total Performances:

Category: Musical, Comedy, Original, Broadway

Originally directed by Frank Dunlop at the The Young Vic (Frank Dunlop: Director); Originally directed at Ford's Theatre in the United States by James D. Waring; Originally choreographed at Ford's Theatre in the United States by Wayne Cilento

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; Lyrics by Tim Rice; Music arranged by Martin Silvestri and Jeremy Stone; Music orchestrated by Martin Silvestri and Jeremy Stone; Musical Director: David Friedman; Book by Tim Rice
Directed by Tony Tanner; Choreographed by Tony Tanner
Scenic Design by Karl Eigsti; Lighting Design by Barry Arnold; Costume Design by Judith Dolan; Sound Design by Tom Morse; Wig Design by Charles LoPresto; Beaded Headpieces Designed by Paige Southard; Assistant to the Lighting Designer: Toni Goldin; Assistant to Ms. Dolan: Danajean Cicerchi; Assistant to Mr. Eigsti: Tom Cariello
General Manager: Theatre Now, Inc.; Company Manager: Helen V. Meier
Production Stage Manager: Michael Martorella; Stage Manager: John Fennessy; Assistant Stage Mgr: John Ganzer

Musical Supervisor: Martin Silvestri and Jeremy Stone; Assistant Conductor: Allen Cohen; Copyist: Music Services Int'l, Ltd.; Orchestra Personnel Manager: Earl Shendell

Casting: Meg Simon and Fran Kumin; General Press Representative: Fred Nathan & Associates; Dance Captain: Joni Masella; Asst. to the Choreographer: Joni Masella; Photographer: Martha Swope and Associates; Advertising: Ash / LeDonne

Opening Night Cast








Mrs. Potiphar 





Chorus Woman 

Chorus Woman 



Chorus Woman 

Chorus Woman 



Chorus Woman 

Chorus Woman 

Chorus Woman 





Chorus Woman 

IBDB - Internet Broadway Database®

Productions Dates  of  Productions
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
[Original, Musical, Comedy]
Jan  27,  1982 - Sep  4,  1983
  • Assistant Stage Manager: John Ganzer
  • Swing: John Ganzer [Swing]
  • Understudy: John Ganzer
    • Joseph - Replacement

© 2001-2011, The Broadway League, All Rights Reserved. (Copyright and Disclaimer

PANACHE -- 149 E. 57th St.  955-0244  
11/1 at 8,  Dianna Templeton; 
11/1 at 11, Tonnia Silicato; 
11/2 at 8,   Tonnia Silicato,
John Ganzer  11/4-6  at 8, 
John Soleather at 11

And yet, after we depart this mortal coil, the good works we've done live on, in the lives and memories of those who held us so fondly, so warmly, so empathetically, and thus it has come to pass that my youngest sister, Marianne Catherine Ganzer, each year on her birthday, 8 November, 1959, gets up early, gathers her few brave friends, dons her wet suit, and embarks on that 120-mile RIVER RUN TRIATHALON which has enabled her to raise over $100,000 for Actors' Equity Fights Aids -- and these are but rivulets that rain down from the generosity of those who knew John, those who experienced John, those who have come to know him through the surviving recordings, and those who know only that their friends who have loved John are worthy of their free will contributions (in at least one case, as much as $10,000) to the cause, so that one day we may understand, and be able to sustain the lives of EVERY human being on the planet with the HIV virus.

In' Sha' Allah - God Willing
John's final words were spoken to our sister, Marianne, who was staying with him.
He was very sick, the priest was drunk, and John was concerned.

"I'm afraid, Marianne," he said.

"Oh John, you've been to the hospital before."

"No, that's not it, that's not what I'm afraid of."

"Well, John, you've had the drugs before, you know you can always get lots of valium."

"No, that's not it. That's not what I'm afraid of."

"What is it, John? What is it that you afraid of?"

"I'm afriad they'll never know how much I loved them."

AND EVEN NOW, 23 years after, typing these words, reading these words, hearing Marianne say these words, I weep, uncontrollably for the genius lost to us all - my brother's genius: the oracle of Manhattan.

For of whom was John speaking?

You know it in your hearts; you know it in your guts;
who was speaking for us all - FOR JOHN SO LOVED THE WORLD.

Blessings and Peace be upon us
And the Spirit of Tolerance,
The Spirit of Forgiveness.

In Love, With Love, Through Love
Until by Love's Loving, our fears are betrayed
And we ascend to alight the light of days.



In the matter of John Franklin Ganzer's legendary perseverance, our Great Uncle Harold took us Pullman First Class on the Great Empire Builder to Seattle in the Summer of 1966. We stopped in Havre Montana, where we have many relatives. We went on a picnic and John and I climbed a small mountain in the latter party of the mid-day afternoon. The scenery was breath-taking (this was August, under a cloudless Montana sky). John had to get a picture, but we had left the camera at the picnic table. He didn't even ask me to accompany him back down the mountain to fetch the camera to climb the mountain again whilst the sun was setting every more rapidly. He made it back in time and got some great photos. Persevere my man. Keep on keepin' on, my brother.
The summer after his high school senior year, he was selected as one of Barrington Consolidated High School's two representatives to the local song and dance troupe Great Waves of Care, which put on one heck of a show and toured the country. From that experience he made many more friends, and the following summer, he and Colleen Zenk put together a musical, song & dance ensemble to raise money for the Little Sisters of the Poor Catholic home. The talent was incredible! I wrote the musical score for Summer In the City, for which Matthew Ward was eternally grateful, because that was not one of his favorite numbers. I sang Luck Be a Lady Tonight, solo, and Peter Hayward got a perfectly fitting tuxedo for me for the part. Probably helped that his father was the President of the Chicago Bar Association.
To truly delve and ken the power of performance to seep into the cracks of people's minds, you would have had to watched the duet of Hey, Johnnie Look Sharp. The sad song ends when Johnnie, after singing to and with his mother, is shot dead, and dies. This was 1972, as my memory serves me, and this was a very powerful anti-war moment, when you could literally have heard a pin drop in the audience. As Ian Anderson wrote for Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick Album - "I may make you feel, but I can't make you think. Your sperm's in the gutter, your love's in the sink."
And in a moment when the audience was dazed, almost as if it were a bull, about to be killed by the matador, we lifted up the curtain to expose the Wizard of Oz, the meek, mild, weak puppet master pulling the strings, trying to maintain the illusion of power, and the entire ensemble pulled tiny American flags from our sleeves as we sang "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Familiarity, the audience burst out into a resounding round of applause that didn't stop until more than a minute after we had finished singing the song.
The last John Franklin Ganzer story is this. He is in the hospital in NYC, the AIDS virus has mestastisized into the pnemoniua from which one never recovers. John awakens. The medical staff begins its interogation:
"What's your name?" "John Ganzer."
"Where are you?" "Hospital in New york City, New York."
"What day of the week is it?" "Tuesday."
"Who's the President?" "Colleen Dewhurst."
I will carry you in my heart, my brother so dear, my brother so fair, unto my last breath, unto my last memory fades, and I emerge, a star burst, perhaps a single drop of rain - perhaps I may become a highway man again; but I'll come back again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.


I was so depressed when we went to New York City to celebrate the life of my beloved brother, John, that not even the most overt of the gay guys could bring themselves to console me; it was as if I were the Bermuda Triangle, and they put their very souls at risk by boating too close to my troubled waters. But there was one collegue of John's who did come forward, and in so doing, taught me one of life's most important lessons.
After the celebration, while munching on crumpets and eating tea, Werner Von Klempf approached me, stretched out h is hand, and said, “I loved your brother as a son; I was in awe of his vocal talent; and I had the highest respect and regards for him as a man.”
Thank you Werner, too late, for you too are with brother John in that heavenly balcony, watching the grand comedy unfold, and wondering, “where in the WORLD do these writers come up with this stuff?”
Of Werner, with whom my brother served on the Actor's Equity Council under the most well run Council President, Colleen Dewhurst, John had this to say. “He could be a real horse's ass. When I came to New York City, there were sixty-six dinner theaters. Now, there are but nineteen. What profiteth an actor to have Equity Wages if he cannot find work to pay him those wages?”
Of course, Werner was wise in the ways of the world, in the ways of management, in the ways of old money, and well knew that a concession today might well lead to a surrender and disorderly retreat tomorrow.
They were both right. Neither one was wrong. We can agree to disagree, we can agree to be horse's asses unto each other, when speaking truthfully, passionately, about that which we care so much about, and, aside from God, Country, and Family (not necessarily in that order, but, on the other hand, are they not all one and the same?), what can be of more importance to the artisan than the payment he receives for the years spent perfecting his craft?
God Bless you Both, Brother John, Colonel Klenk. May you clank your glasses together as you drink the finest of wines, sniff the most expensive of brandies, and smoke the most fragrant Cubans together, and watch as the Great Mandella rolls round and round – never repeating exactly, but as always, reveaeling there are no new things under the sun.