UNC Charlotte alum Glenn T. Griffin, director of Queen City Theatre (QCT), is bringing Paul Rudnick’s controversial play “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” to Charlotte’s Duke Energy Theatre. Its run begins on Feb. 2, 2012.
The play is based around the story of Adam and Eve but jumps between the past and present day. There is also another twist; all of the main characters are gay.
The stage manager, or God, creates Adam and Steve and soon they are banished from the Garden of Eden. The two men then meet Jane and Mabel. The story spans over centuries and covers everything from the flood and Noah’s ark to slavery in Egypt.
“It really is a journey play,” said Griffin. “It’s a comedy but at the same time it has a lot of heart.”
Although the play has gotten a lot of negative response from local religious groups, Griffin insists that the play is not bashing religion at all but rather taking a closer at it.
“We are trying to comprehend our own idea of religion,” he said. “I question. I am trying to understand why bad things happen to good people. A lot of us don’t just blindly believe anymore.”
Griffin, who was raised a Catholic and says he is strong in his faith, has been dealing with a lot of hateful commentary regarding what he calls “a God-affirming play.”
“Imagine getting 50-70 emails in a day telling you how you’re going to hell,” he said. Cyberspace has given his tormenters a safe haven, he believes.
“In our day and age, the internet makes it so easy to say things to people without facing them. I would love for them to say these horrible things to my face,” he said.
With some threatening to picket the opening, Griffin said he was caught by surprise by some of the reactions the play has gotten. “In 2012, I didn’t think you could do anything that is so controversial, but apparently you can,” he said.
He hopes that people will give the play a chance first before criticizing him. “At least be a little open-minded. It can’t just be your point of view. Out of all the people that have been saying things, none of them have read it,” he said.
Griffin and the rest of the QCT staff reinforced this point in a statement that was recently released to the media. In it they stated, “This show WILL NOT be shut down. This production WILL NOT be altered or changed on the request of people who protest in ignorance because they have never seen nor read the play.”
The openly gay Griffin said he did not choose the play simply because of its controversy. “I would never just choose a show that didn’t have artistic merit. It’s a very smart comedy. I’m not just directing a silly comedy.”
Griffin thinks that people will be pleasantly surprised by the humor of the play. The actors have had a hard time keeping a straight face through rehearsals, he said.
Audience members should be prepared for “two hours of laughing and thinking about love, hope and our look at religion,” said Griffin.
Griffin, who used to be an actor, had starred as the title character in one of Rudnick’s earlier plays, “Jeffrey,” and has always been a huge fan. “I love the way he thinks,” Griffin said. “I love to find humor in everyday events. He makes you laugh about something you would never laugh about.”
The play deals with parodies of eras long past while still mixing in modern day issues. It truly takes place in the here and now but the flashbacks work as a sort of dream sequence in which characters are imagining things.
Beyond the four main characters, four actors play every other character in the story. An oppressive pharaoh ruling over Egyptian slaves is later depicted as a bitter rich man in modern day New York. The Garden of Eden is later Central Park and Noah’s Ark is actually a circuit party.
The play explores many taboos, such as the God character being played by a woman.
“That was a very interesting choice,” said Griffin. “When you look at God as a nurturer and creator of humans, it makes a lot of sense to see God as a woman.”
Despite some of the negative backlash around the Charlotte community, Griffin said that he has gotten just as much positive reinforcement from people here and all over the country. He has received calls from people in the industry in New York and California, among other places, in which they encouraged him not to let the protests slow him down.
Telling this story is very important for Griffin, and he is excited to be able to share it with audiences. “I’m not going to make a million dollars with this. I just really want to create something that was never there before,” he said.