Nothing says Christmas like Corpus Christi, Terrence McNally's controversial gay-life-of-Jesus drama. The play does contain a comic birth of Christ scene which will ring familiar through the holidays as the San Francisco production extends at the New Conservatory Theatre Center through Jan. 6. Corpus Christi was originally set to close Dec. 9.
Set in modern southern Texas, Corpus Christi depicts the life of a gay Christ-like figure named Joshua and the relationships he forms with his twelve disciples, including a Judas-like lover, a lawyer and a prostitute.
When Corpus Christi made its world premiere in October 1998 at the Manhattan Theatre Club, protests from the Catholic League of Religious and Civil Rights and fringe extremist groups almost led to the play's cancellation. Only counter-protests from the arts community, including a petition signed by playwrights Tony Kushner, Craig Lucas, Marsha Norman, Lanford Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, and Larry Kramer and the threatened loss of Athol Fugard's The Captain's Tiger, brought reinstatement of the play into the MTC season. Throughout the run, protests continued (and patrons were put through metal detectors before entering the theatre).
Other plays by McNally include Love! Valor! Compassion!, The Lisbon Traviata and Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune. He won Tony Awards for best book of a musical for both Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Ed Decker directs. Teli Cardaci is Joshua with James Mark as Judas. Also in the cast are Tarek Khan (Phillip), Michael Barr (Andrew), Michael Beck (Peter), Michael Billingsley (Thomas), Ryan Canfield (John), Scott Cox (Matthew), Gary Wayne Farris (Bartholomew), Richard Gallagher (James), James Godwin (Thadeus) and Keven McMahon (James the Less). Performances began Oct. 11 with an opening Oct. 21. Tickets are $25-$15. The New Conservatory Theatre Center is located at 25 Van Ness Avenue near Market Street. For tickets, call (415) 861-8972. The New Conservatory Theatre Center is on the web at http://www.nctcsf.org.
Because of the Corpus Christi extension, the New Conservatory Theatre will cancel its Christmas production of Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory set to run Dec. 9-19. <