Self-proclaimed “heir to Sodom and Gomorrah,” the divinely talented writer/ actor/ singer/ musician/ composer/ “disaster in lipstick” Erik Ransom stars in a newly revised version of his 2011 Philadelphia smash hit COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS for FringeNYC. Ransom and his company Libertine Idol Productions should have another huge success on their hands with this now even funnier, wildly irreverent show about the End of Days and gay rights, seen through the eyes of his fiery alter-ego—gender-bending glam rocker and Satan incarnate Damian Salt. Combining references to Pop culture and the Bible’s Book of Revelations, Ransom’s witty and provocative re-evaluation of traditional religious concepts of virtue and vice, and their impact on society’s views of love, fame, and sexuality, will keep you rocking, laughing, and thinking. And pulling out your mirror to touch up your eye liner.
The apocalyptic battle between good and evil is on, as the powerfully seductive Damian, in towering platform boots and devilish diva make-up, wigs, and costumes (by Bobby Fabulous and Rachel Klein, who also directs the powerhouse production), takes the innocent young “American Icon” contestant Josh Crenshaw (played with wholesome sweetness and naïveté by Glen North) under his gold lamé wing. Hell-bent on corrupting him with the big three temptations of fame, fortune, and fornication, Damian, with martini glass in hand, exposes Josh–a native of Bethlehem, PA, and the Second Coming of Christ, as intimated by his initials JC–to his world of unbridled self-expression and hedonism, and the reactionary pandemic of repression and violence they trigger in brutally intolerant self-righteous zealots.
While there is no doubt that fantastic fashions and cosmetics are well worth fighting for, so too is putting an end to religious fanaticism, homophobia, sexism, and bigotry of all kinds, and promoting self-love, diversity, and acceptance. And that’s precisely what Josh does. As his Father renders a Last Judgment that sends all the narrow-minded moralists into Rapture, he decides to turn the other cheek, allowing the so-called sinners to live out their libertine ecstasy in “Hell on Earth,” free from fear, condemnation, and attacks by the haters (“This time, no one is crucified” and “every Chik-Fil-A is closed”). Now wouldn’t that be Heaven?
Ransom’s performance is nothing short of electric, as he dominates the stage (glittering production design by Mark A. Dahl and Bill Egan of Traverse Arts Project) with his astonishing vocals, commanding presence, formidable attitude, and blazing pansexual appeal. In addition to lead actors Ransom and North, supporting members of the consistently impressive cast are Avery Royal and Aurora Black as Damian’s demonic minions, Ilana Gabrielle as the whore Magda who falls in love with Josh, and Mark Willis Borum, Courter Simmons, and Ashanti J’Aria in hilarious multiple roles (the latter two of whom know more than a little something about Pop culture, instant celebrity, and the price of fame, from their appearances on American Idol). All bring strong voices, great moves (choreography by Aurora Black and Rachel Klein, and a stunning slow-motion gay-bashing sequence by fight director Rod Kinter), and dazzling personality to their characters.
COMING includes 20 original songs by Ransom (played by the terrific live band of Jason Binnick, Boris Pelekh, Keith Crupi, and Charles Czarnecki, who also provided the musical direction and arrangements) in a mix of post-modern rock music and Latin requiem mass. He composed fourteen of them, along with a 60-page script, in an inspired five days in 2010, beating the Old Testament record for the six days of Creation. And Ransom doesn’t rest on Sunday; there’s a 4 pm performance of his “Glamageddon” that you can fit in after church services in the morning. And more good news: tickets in the New York International Fringe Festival are a bargain, priced for true “fringe” audiences at only $18. So that makes a lot of lessons to be learned from the Big Apple and its flourishing Tree of Knowledge. [Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Place, New York, NY]; August 8-24, 2014, comingthemusical.com.