BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
L to R: Ilana Gabrielle as Magda Plajova, Courter
Simmons
as Israfil, Glen North as Josh Crenshaw
& Erik Ransom as Damian Salt.
Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

When it comes to the annual Fringe Festival in New York City, everyone gets excited. Why? It's simple. New works! Good, bad, mediocre, it all comes down to the experience of seeing something that has never really been seen before. Erik Ransom's COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS enjoyed a 2011 premiere in Philadelphia and is now having its own second coming at Fringe. With humor that ranges from tongue-in-cheek camp to witty panache, this irreverent rock musical is sure to make your Rock of Gibraltar roll.

Writing the book, music, and lyrics was surely an undertaking for Erik Ransom, who also stars in the production as Damian Salt. Wearing multiple hats, both he and show fare well, but some fresh eyes on the project may help him and the production as well. The jokes, which range from spoofing Chik-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby to being intellectual zingers about our society's acceptance, or lack thereof, for anything deemed different or abnormal keep the audience laughing. The songs are constructed well, garnering responses from the audience that range from mild amusement to sincerely stirred emotions. However, the first act, clocking in at 75 minutes, feels long. It could use some tightening and trimming, since it doesn't really feel like it finds its own legs until the riveting and heartbreaking number "G.H.F." The second act clicks, moving along with comfortable pacing and ensuring that audiences leave entertained and overall happy they ventured out to see COMING.

Rachel Klein directs the show well, coaching the cast to create vastly overdrawn caricatures that the audience can still relate to and empathize with. Each character is constructed from a stereotype, but the amount of heart poured into the portrayal by the cast ensures that they keep us interested and invested in the story they are telling.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Erik Ransom as Damian Salt.
Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

Starring as the antichrist that we all root for, Erik Ransom's Damian Salt is truly a villain with a heart of gold. His pivotal loss about 2/3s through Act I crushes our hearts and completely wins us over to his side. It doesn't hurt any that his character gets all the best songs in the piece, but others, like "Twenty Feet Tall" seem to exist just so Erik Ransom can sing a good song. Unfortunately, because of issues with the sound design/amplification in the venue, I am worried that Erik Ransom will blow out his voice during the show's run. His belt often sounded as though it was coming from his throat, not his diaphragm, in an attempt to be heard over the band and his occasionally working microphone.

As Josh Crenshaw, Damian Salt's foil and the second coming of Jesus Christ, Glen North creates a delightfully naïve, wholesome, and pure character that undergoes a transformation akin to Brad and Janet's in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. At times, since this is Damian Salt's story, his character feels too developed. Additionally, some of the notes written for Josh Crenshaw seemed to be out of Glen North's range, making some of the vocal performances he delivered jar in the ears.

Ilana Gabrielle is charming as former pornographic actress Magda Plajova. Like a valiant knight, she desires to protect those she loves and will stop at nothing to help Josh Creshaw. Likewise, the remainder of the cast, playing various roles, all keep the tone jovial and the audience mirthful. They go for broke with their sendups of various celebrities and Biblical personas. Standouts include Mark Willis Borum's hip-hop inspired pastor Peter O'Malley, Ashanti J'aria's bewildered Excess Hollywood reporter Nadine Asmodeus, Aurora Black's sultry Lucy Furr, Avery Royal's twerking Abaddon, and Courter Simmons divinely fabulous Israfil.

Musical Director, keyboardist, and band conductor Charles Czarnecki keeps the music lively. His band, made of Jason Binnick on Bass, Keith Crupi on Drums, and Boris Pelekh on Guitar, all perform the score with gusto and drive, giving audiences the pop rock sounds they would expect from a musical all while emphasizing the darker rock modalities of the score.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Erik Ransom as Damian Salt & Glen North as Josh
Crenshaw. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPROTIONS is almost ready for an open-ended Off-Broadway transfer. The characters are interesting and fun to watch. The story is enjoyable and has an ending audiences can't help but love. The score is a delicious blend of pulsating pop and driving rock. The jokes work, even the obvious ones that leave us chuckling as we roll our eyes. The only thing that needs to happen is that the first act needs to be looked at again, ensuring that only elements essential to the forward momentum of the plot and characters are present.

The often hilarious and nicely endearing COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICIAL PROPRTIONS still has three more performances at Theatre 80, 80 St Marks Place, New York City, New York 10003. You can catch it on Friday, August 15 at 8:45 p.m., Wednesday, August 20 at 8:45 p.m., or Sunday, August 22 at 2:00 p.m. It's not a perfect show, but you won't regret visiting this rocking take on the end of days either. For more information, please visit http://www.fringenyc.org. You can purchase tickets by clicking here. Also, you can follow COMING on Facebook.

All photos by Clayton Sweeney.

high res photos

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Glen North as Josh Crenshaw. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Erik Ransom as Damian Salt. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Glen North as Josh Crenshaw & Ilana Gabrielle as Magda Plajova. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Erik Ransom as Damian Salt. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Erik Ransom as Damian Salt & Glen North as Josh Crenshaw. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Glen North as Josh Crenshaw & Ashanti J'Aria as Nadine Asmodeus. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Glen North as Josh Crenshaw. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
L to R: Ilana Gabrielle as Magda Plajova, Courter Simmons as Israfil, Glen North as Josh Crenshaw & Erik Ransom as Damian Salt. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

BWW Reviews: COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS is Irreverent Fun
Cast of COMING: A ROCK MUSICAL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS. Photo by Clayton Sweeney.

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