Playwright Paul Rudnick, the darling of Off-Broadway and on occasion, Broadway, is considered a satirical playwright who loves to poke fun at society’s sacred cows and WASPY values. Needless to say, his 1998 comic-spoof on the bible’s Adam and Eve story entitled “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told”, would not be very popular at an Evangelical or Southern Baptist convention.
The play features the characters of the bible as gay. Instead of Adam and Eve, the first two humans on the planet, we are introduced to gay men, Adam and Steve, who bump into Jane (Cain) and Mabel (Abel) a lesbian couple in the Garden of Eden. From there, the story unfolds into selected sections of the bible leading our intrepid company of characters to explore the ideas of family, love, faith, and the spiritual universe, ultimately arriving in the present in New York City.
It may be somewhat funny at times and the actors are working hard to breathe life into a less than stellar plot line, but “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” directed by the usually reliable Jim Strait, fails to engage on a couple of levels. Perhaps, it was a case of the opening night jitters, but the uneven performances by the off-pace cast, with a word or two dropped here and there, struggled in their efforts to right the ship. Try as they may the story and the dialogue are not up to the standards of a Broadway playwright and tend to sink the ship as it steams out of port.
Wendy Cohen (Jane), a talented actor, director, playwright, costumer, and all-round accomplished theatre person is wasted in this vehicle. Mark Demry (the latecomer, Pharoah, Trey, etc.) has some moments as he tosses one-liners and zingers, Ryan Dominguez (Adam), is exceptionally one dimensional in portraying the first man on earth, Terry Huber (Stage Manager) announces every light cue in the play to the audience. After the first seven or eight light cues, we “get” the convention – there’s really no need to hear them all night long. Huber is another talented actor who deserves a better vehicle.
Jeremy Johnson (Fr. Markham, Brad, Kevin, etc.); Phylicia Mason; Timothy McGivney (Steve); Tony Milano (Miriam, Babe, Rabbi Sharon, etc.); and Lorraine Williamson (Mabel) complete the cast.
In the technical department, Strait directs, does the scenic designs and projections, and the sound design. Phil Murphy a top professional lighting designer whose work is seen by many theatres throughout the Coachella Valley, delivers on the biblical command of let there be light! On a somewhat sad note, costume designer extraordinaire Peter Mins, announced he is hanging up his needle, thread, and designing pad after fifty years in the theatre business. Thank you, Peter for your many creative and wonderful costume designs over the years. You will be greatly missed.
“The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told”, produced by Paul Taylor, runs throughDecember 22nd at the Desert Rose Playhouse, in Rancho Mirage. The Desert Rose Playhouse productions serve the Coachella Valley LGBT community.