Composer of Musicals
Gray's other musicals included Don Messer's Jubilee (1984, premiered 4 Jan 1985 at the Neptune Theatre, Halifax, and toured nationally) and Health, the Musical (1989, premiered 24 Feb 1989 at the Vancouver Playhouse). Thematically, many of his musicals explore the internal and external pressures that have shaped Canada's self-image; stylistically they draw on the energy and structure of the travelling vaudeville and concert troupes that were his introduction to the performing arts in Truro. The librettos for 18 Wheels, Rock and Roll and Don Messer's Jubilee were published in Local Boy Makes Good: Three Musicals by John Gray (Vancouver 1987).
Gray also wrote the children's musicals Bongo from the Congo and Balthazaar and the Mojo Star (1982, commissioned by the Vancouver International Children's Festival) as well as The B.C. Review (1986, 18 short musicals about British Columbia history for the province's pavillion at Expo 86).
Gray's Other Activities
CBC Radio commissioned the 1995 biblical rock opera TheTree.TheTower.TheFlood. Gray's Rock and Roll, and revised versions of Billy Bishop (in which Gray reprised his role) and 18 Wheels, enjoyed revivals in several Canadian cities in the 1990s.
Gray's other writings include plays (eg, Better Watch Out, Better Not Die, 1981); film scripts (eg, The Legend of Kootenai Brown); and several novels and works of non-fiction. He has been a columnist for such newspapers as the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun.
Awards and Recognition
The Gray Family
Gray's younger brothers Charlie (b Truro 12 Jul 1952) and Phil (b Truro 30 Nov 1955) are musicians, the former a trumpeter as of 1974 in Toronto studio, jazz and theatre orchestras, and the latter lead trombonist in the US 1978-80 with Maynard Ferguson and in 1985 with Buddy Rich.
I Love Mom: An Irreverent History of the Tattoo (Toronto 1994)
Lost in North America: The Imaginary Canadian in the American Dream (Vancouver 1994)
A Gift for the Little Master (Toronto 2000)
The Fiend in Human (Toronto 2003)
Author Revised: Betty Nygaard King
Wyman, Max. 'Musical about truckers "theatre for people,"' Vancouver Sun, 23 Jun 1977
Allen, Bob. 'Gray cued to play,' Vancouver Province, 30 Apr 1981
Blackadar, Bruce. 'Rock and Roll writer's runs race against time,' Toronto Star, 1 Nov 1981
Conlogue, Ray. 'John Gray: more than just another storyteller,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 4 Nov 1981
Ashwell, Keith. 'John Gray: Ace of theatre wars,' Edmonton Journal, 28 Jun 1982
Lekich, John. 'The co-pilot brings Bishop in smoothly,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 13 Nov 1982
Godfrey, Stephen. 'Author churns out the hits with "controlled dreaming,"' Toronto Globe and Mail, 7 Sep 1985
Portman, Jamie. 'Different shades of Gray in his new musical, Health,' Toronto Star, 25 Feb 1989
Bessai, Diane. "Playwrights of collective creation," University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 63, no. 1, Fall 1993
Dafoe, Chris. "I'm having a wonderful time," Toronto Globe and Mail, 23 Feb 1993
Conlogue, Ray. "Bringing Billy to a new generation: Once more with feeling," Toronto Globe and Mail, 26 Sept 1998
"Billy soars again," Maclean's, 28 Sept 1998
Links to Other Sites
A biography of author John Gray from the “Encyclopedia of Canadian Theatre.”
Billy Bishop Goes to War
A review of “Billy Bishop Goes to War,” by Russell A. Hunt, St. Thomas University.
Billy Bishop Goes to War: Not to be missed
A review of a revival of "Billy Bishop Goes to War." From thestar.com.
John MacLachlan Gray
The website for Canadian novelist and playwright John MacLachlan Gray.