When Marigny Theater got started a few years back, it was a dance hall with some chairs in front of a rudimentary stage. Now, the place has blossomed into a cabaret with table seating and a solid-looking proscenium curtain.
The current offering at this theater is Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told -- a biblical saga that would cause dyspepsia, if not coronary arrest, in a lot of places (judging by President Bush's recent push for an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the Constitution).
According to The Most Fabulous Story: "In the beginning, there was Adam and Steve." How exactly God planned to populate the earth from this unorthodox matchmaking is unclear, but maybe he'd rather have a good laugh and let the mortals figure out the practical details.
When the house lights dim, a stage manager (Karen Shields) calls the cues for The Almighty. "Tuesday, go!" "Garden of Eden, go!" By the end of the first week of creation, we've got all the firmament we'll ever need, plus the creatures of the earth. In comes Adam (Michael Castrillo), a young white man in a jock strap. He is "so jazzed about this garden. It's fabulous!" Of course, the place could get a little lonely. But, luckily, Steve (Jason George) strolls in. He's a young black man, also in a jock strap. What do you know, love is born.
Things get complicated when the boy couple (who have indeed coupled) run into a girl couple. Girls? Adam is thoroughly confused by their anatomy. "You don't even have a dick!" he taunts them. "We have vaginas," a girl retorts, "and they're our friends."
Gender is not the only quandary in Eden. Everything is so absolutely brand new that people sometimes have names for things, without yet knowing what the things are. "We need to get inside," one character says. "Inside of what?" is the response.
But, back to the girls. Jane (Cammie West) and Mabel (Lisa Davis) are also an item, though they don't seem to have completely mastered the intricacies of sex. "I lick her eyeball, then rub it on my butt," explains one of the primal lesbians. Clearly the Kama Sutra has not yet been written.
In any case, history marches forward. In fact, it marches all over the place. Somehow Noah's ark and Utah coexist. So does "The Dance of the Divine Earth Goddess" and a fey laundry. "We don't cram and bunch," scolds Adam, "we fluff and fold."
The original humans, it turns out, are extremely durable. Soon, they are complaining about having lived together for hundreds of years. Some problems keep reoccurring over the eons. Steve, for instance, does not believe in God. Meanwhile, various side characters put in an appearance, like a high-heeled, kinky kitten and a sow with six nipples. Then, of course, we meet a pharaoh and even a Moses type named Brad. Clothing gets invented and evolves from white robes to tee shirts and bermudas (thanks to costume designer Donnie Jay).
Adam huffs: "We (homosexuals) don't have children. We have taste!" But the absence of a next generation becomes irksome. Finally, Mabel decides to take the plunge and have a baby.
Of course, a baby brings with it the idea of the Nativity and the star of Bethlehem. We even witness the arrival of the Magi (or "Wise Guys"), who ridicule each other because of the weird gifts they are offering. I mean, who ever heard of giving myrrh to a baby?
Well, I think you get the idea. The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told is a kind of satirical, gay Skin of Our Teeth. The human predicament keeps reasserting itself through the same basic archetypes -- from Eden to the shopping mall. All the way through, there are odd twists and non-sequiturs that brighten things up and add to the fun. For instance, a disabled lesbian rabbi gets wheeled in to patch things up for the squabbling foursome.
Director Todd Blauvelt has assembled a game cast, who seem very much at ease with zaniness. The zaniness itself is bracing and enjoyable. There doesn't seem to be a lecture lurking beneath the laughter. This is a great advantage.
Though not as flamboyant as the comedies of the late Charles Ludlum, The Most Fabulous Story flaunts a similar outrageous attitude. The focus is on entertainment, irony and a quirky inside-out glamour -- the glamour of anti-glamour, if you will.
In short, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told is good fun in a dandy new cabaret.
- Michael Castrillo, Jason George, Cammie West and Lisa Davis star in To Do Production's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.