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Catholic Extremists Protest Atlanta Production of Gay Biblical Comedy

Tuesday Apr 18, 2017
Adam and Steve from Out Front's production of Paul Rudnick's "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told"
Adam and Steve from Out Front's production of Paul Rudnick's "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told"  (Source:Brian Wallenberg/Outfront Theatre.)

A Pennsylvania-based extremist Catholic group that once linked tornadoes in Illinois to gay marriage is up in arms about a play performed by an LGBT theater company 700 miles away in Atlanta, which they deem to be blasphemous.

Adam and Steve, Jane and Mabel are characters in gay playwright Paul Rudnick's 1998 send-up of Old Testament stories titled "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told." The comedy is set to take the stage in Atlanta later this month.

Although at first thought, the über gay play might not be a great fit for Bible belt audiences. But as The New York Times reports, this production is being mounted by the Out Front Theatre Company - a group that focuses on queer-themed works for the city's LGBTQIA population.

The play is being targeted by a group based more than a full day's drive away in Hanover, Pennsylvania. America Needs Fatima, a project of the hard right wing group American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP), has made it their goal to urge like-minded Catholics to protest the play.

In December 2013, they staged a similar protest against a production of "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" in Dallas. The show went on nonetheless.

Other works protested by the group in the past include the films "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Last Temptation of Christ," as well as the musical "Jerry Springer, the Opera."

A petition addressed to Out Front Theatre's artistic director Paul Conroy 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.
   
The Holy Mother of God is most pure and holy. To refer to her as a lesbian, or even to insinuate it, is an unspeakable blasphemy, which I reject with all my soul. I fear God's wrath will fall upon us if reparation is not made.

If you continue with this presentation, we will urge Catholics to oppose it loudly, peacefully, and legally in as large a protest as we can help make possible.

Although there are over 42,918 signatures on the petition to stop the play, it is unclear how many signees are members of the Atlanta area theatergoing public.

According to ArtsAtl, Conroy has been on the receiving end of over 12,000 emails, Facebook messages, phone calls and letters, most of which stem from the America Needs Fatima protest. Some have mentioned coming to the theater to picket. Conroy has been in touch with the Atlanta Police Department's LGBT liaison, who has arranged for a uniformed officer to be present on opening night. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has been or will be alerted.

BroadwayWorld notes that the show comes after Out Front made its debut in October 2016 with the Broadway hit "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Conroy founded the company when he realized that there was theater in Atlanta that catered specifically to the city's LGBTQ community and its allies.

Conroy told The Times that he has no intention of canceling "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told."

"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," Conroy said. These people have their minds made up even before it starts."

"The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" runs from April 27 through May 14 at The Out Front Theatre Company on 999 Brady Ave NW in Atlanta. To get a ticket or make a donation, visit. www.outfronttheatre.com

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