An Atlanta Theater Faces Criticism for Gay Versions of Bible Stories

Sopan Deb
The New York Times

What if it really was Adam and Steve? That’s what the Out Front Theater Company in Atlanta, which stages shows created only by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, will set out to answer for audiences during a three-week run of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” starting April 27.

However, its decision to do so has provoked a torrent of criticism over the play, which has been called “blasphemous.”

The work is an alternate version and comedic sendup of stories from the Old Testament, presented through the eyes of a gay couple named Adam and Steve and a lesbian couple named Jane and Mabel. It was written by Paul Rudnick and premiered Off Broadway in 1998. The New York Times called it, a “seriously silly theology treatise of a play.”

The Out Front Theater decided it would do its own rendition of it about a year ago. However, on March 27, emails, phone calls, letters and Facebook messages blasting the decision started pouring in.

“We had already been in rehearsals for several weeks and had auditions before that,” Paul Conroy, the theater’s artistic director, said. “I guess that’s just when someone found us and my best guess was that it was a Monday, which means that people were at church on Sunday the day before, and that’s when it picked up steam.”

The main driver of the protest seems to be a conservative Catholic group called America Needs Fatima, which circulated an online petition that has garnered more than 40,000 signatures. The group has protested earlier productions of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” along with other works it found objectionable, such as 2006’s movie adaptation of “The Da Vinci Code.”

This petition reads: “I vehemently protest your showing the blasphemous play ‘The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,’ which, among other blasphemies, refers to the Virgin Mary as a lesbian. Please cancel your showing of it.” It also refers to the play as showing a “homosexual version of the Old Testament.”

Mr. Conroy said there were no plans to cancel the show.

“I’m going to let the show speak for itself,” Mr. Conroy said. “I don’t see the benefit in responding because I don’t think they’re going to change their minds no matter what I say or anyone else says. These people have their minds made up even before it starts.”

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