Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for September 2009
BY Brandon Voss
September 21 2009 1:15 PM ET
Then, just when I thought every subject, taboo or tame, had already been musicalized, I caught a performance of For the Love of Christ! at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Predominantly set in the Bottoms Up gay bathhouse in 1979 and inspired by the story of the AIDS epidemic’s Patient Zero, this musical tells the cautionary tale of a French-Canadian airline steward named Jésus who gives an unhappily married man the courage to ditch his family (including a son who happens to be a sassy black cross-dresser) for short-shorts and homosexual liberation. The musical’s writer and composer Ben Knox also cast himself in the husband role, but the spotlight is stolen by former Star Search champ Marty Thomas as the troubled family priest, complete with an attraction to altar boys.
At its best, For the Love of Christ! is like an unholy musical union of Saved! and Terrence McNally’s The Ritz, but the uneven songs will need some divine intervention before it rises again. In fact, the whole show completely goes to hell (literally and figuratively) when infected monkeys drop on the scene in some sort of gay-us ex machina, but at least the monkeys are played by four adorable pocket-twinks wearing American Apparel underwear and matching tube socks. As it turns out, I can forgive just about anything for cute boys in undies.