Performing Arts: Theater
August 21, 2014
Every year before the Fringe Festival, different media outlets create “Must See”/”Top 10” lists of shows. I’ve read enough of these lists and seen enough of the shows suggested to know that they are a hit or miss proposition - usually more miss than hit. What a delight to discover, then, that Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions is an exception to this rule. In fact, it’s an exceptional show altogether.

Conceived, written, and scored by Erik Ransom (who plays the lead, also), Coming is a smart, wickedly funny satire about the second coming of Jesus Christ. In one fell swoop, Ransom’s musical takes on religious intolerance, homophobia, the inanity of American Idol, the fickleness of modern fame, and questions of morality. It’s irreverent, campy lunacy and the kind of show you pray on catching during the Fringe.

Under the able direction of the queen of the downtown theatre scene, Rachel Klein (who also handled choreography and design), the show manages to straddle the fine line between camp and melodrama. The energetic ensemble (Glen North as Josh Crenshaw {JC}, Ilana Gabrielle, Mark Willis Borum, Ashanti J’aria, Aurora Black, Avery Royal, and Courter Simmons) fling themselves into the choreography, the songs, and the jokes with abandon.

Occasionally, the songs ask more of the performers vocally than they appear able to give, but there were technical issues in the performance I saw that might be the true culprit. The play also feels long, especially the first act. Still, that’s what the Fringe is about – seeing new work, which often is still evolving. Given some judicious editing, "Coming" could run for awhile off-Broadway a la Silence: The Musical and Fifty Shades of Gray. Hopefully, that will happen, but in the meantime, get out to see it now while you can. It’s earned its place as a “Must See/Top 10” pick!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Kelly Johnston

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