Who ever heard of the Gospel of Matthew retold southern-style or first century Galilee transformed into 20th century Georgia? Jesus being played by a woman? What about seeing what would happen if Jesus came to modern-day Georgia and “let loose?” Intrigued? Well then the Cotton Patch Gospel musical is just waiting for you to delve into it.
“It’s an Easter-season celebration, hoedown circus and revival tent,” said Mark Hallen, director of theatre productions. It gets better, according to Shannon Flannery, stage manager for the musical.
“We took the Bible and dipped it in Kentucky fried chicken, only in Georgia,” Flannery said. “It brings to light interesting and more controversial things because of the context,” director and Eastern alumn Michael Brix said.
When asked if he was afraid to offend the faint of heart, Brix said, “It’s always scandalous, edgy and raw because the message is like that, so come and be scandalized.”
The difference in settings may surprise a few and amuse others because of the context, but it is all done in good faith. “Having the Gospel of Matthew retold differently brings to light the story and helps us remember,” Flannery said.
The musical promises to offer a broad range of up-tempo music that people have never heard before.
“There will also be square dancing, a little hockey and fun goofing around,” Anna Sweeny said. Sweeney is in charge of music and choreography.
Senior Natalie Cisternas, who plays Pilate, Peter, the devil and many other characters within the musical, had this to say to fellow Eastern peers about the musical: “It’s the way you would dance in your dorm room, and it’s going to be really fun.”
At the beginning, Cisternas thought the plot was blasphemous because the musical has a number of elements that perpetrate small talk. “I think it’s a story we need to hear,” she said.
First-year Katherine Moorman will be playing Jesus in the musical. When asked what she thought of the idea of Jesus being played by a woman, she said, “It’s more like we’re portraying characters than actually saying Jesus was a woman.”
Senior Bailey Pretak, who will be playing Mary, thinks the audience will enjoy the musical. “The way the story is told makes it interesting,” she said. “It makes you realize how cool it really was.”
The Cotton Patch Gospel attempts to include fun elements like the three kings bearing different types of cologne.
The show will be playing in McInnis auditorium, April 2-6, Wednesday to Saturday at 8p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. General admission is $10 for adults, $8 for children and senior citizens and only $5 for Eastern students. For reservations call 610-225-5545.