note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey
Terrence McNally has done for the crucifixion what Charles Ludlam did for (or rather to) the Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon Beach Part Movies. "Corpus Christi" created a huge stir when it opened 1. because it sent up its subject matter --- the way Christopher Durang satirized nuns in "Sister Mary Ignatious..." (and He got a lot of flack in the seventies from the Catholic Church), and 2. Because Jesus and the disciples are all gay in McNally's version of the story.
Thanks to Centre Stage (not to be confused with CentaStage, which performs in the same space), Bostonians can witness McNally's controversial play and decide for themselves how shocking it is. (I didn't find it at all shocking.)
Centre Stage's production is earnest and extremely good natured....and adorably funny, mainly because of some charming performances (Evan Monney as Patricia et al, Phil Patterson as a prissy teacher...everyone was first rate) and some breathtaking work from Reid Morgan as the beatific Jesus, and Adam Rosencrance as the intense Judas.
Since McNally covers the same territory as "Jesus Christ Superstar" (with the same dialogue at play's end, I found myself humming the Andrew Lloyd Webber songs. The London production resonated with references to anti-gay violence by staging the beating of Jesus by the Texas thugs like the Matthew Shepard murder, but director Ron Godfrey doesn't make that connection, so the opportunity to drive home the prevalence of gay bashing in America is lost. McNally seems to abandon the homosexual thread toward the end, so "Corpus Christi" becomes quite respectful and religious at the play's conclusion.