CINCINNATI, OH – He’s a rather enigmatic biblical villain, yet he is mentioned more times in the Christian gospels than Judas Iscariot, and his pardon by the Judeans essentially seals the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. But what if he also smoked a lot of weed, befriended a satanically possessed talking pig and drove a Chevy Astro?
These stupid questions and little else are answered by THE GOSPEL OF BARABBAS (BARABBAS), playing May 30 through June 10 at Memorial Hall (1225 Elm Street) as part of the 2018 Cincinnati Fringe Festival (Cincy Fringe). Mike Sherman directs a cast of local stars and gifted emerging artists in an absurdist adventure through ancient Israel that marries the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski with Tom Stoppard’s ROSENCRANTZ & GILDENSTERN ARE DEAD.
Five performances of the 60-minute farce will take place in Memorial Hall’s Studio:
- Wednesday, May 30, 9:00pm
- Friday, June 1, 7:00pm
- Tuesday, June 5, 7:45pm
- Thursday, June 7, 9:00pm
- Friday, June 8, 8:30pm
BARABBAS is rated “R” for offensive language, insinuated violence and simulated smoking of marijuana. Most audiences will find THE GOSPEL OF BARABBAS offensive.
Tickets may be purchased at CincyFringe.com, or by calling 513.300.5669. Single tickets are $15, and various festival passes are available.
BARABBAS is produced by Hugo West Theatricals (HWT)
HIGH CONCEPT, LOW-BROW HUMOR
In the tradition of Stoppard’s absurdist masterpiece ROSENCRANTZ & GILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, BARABBAS imagines the life and times of a minor literary character against the established backdrop of a well-known story. As the consummately self-involved pothead Barabbas moves from failure to failure, he intersects with the movements of biblical characters as described in the Christian gospels. We find our hero huffing spray paint behind the Jerusalem temple where young Jesus absconded from his parents,
filming Facebook live videos in the camp of John The Baptist, befriending one of the satanically-possessed pigs that Jesus sends tumbling over a cliff, holding court in a bar near Gethsemane, and ultimately imprisoned alongside Jesus in Pontius Pilate’s praetorium.
Importantly, the piece does not satirize the bible’s most sacred figures. Mary, John The Baptist, Saint Peter and Jesus (excepting a final monologue) speak only in words attributed to them from King James’ Bible. While offensive in various and sundry ways, BARABBAS does not endeavor to mock the Christian faith.
CINCINNATI STARS SLUMMING IT
Moonlighting from leading the theatre program at Walnut Hills High School, award-winning director and actor Mike Sherman helms a cast of some of Cincinnati’s finest talent. Maggie Lou Rader* descends from her star turn as the “wonderfully anxious temptress” (Cincinnati Enquirer) Maggie in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF to make her Cincy Fringe debut as Trudy of Nazareth. She plays opposite respected performer Rory Sheridan, who similarly dumbs down for the titular role of Barabbas on the heels of a “terrific” performance (Dayton Most Metro) as Jack in The Human Race Theatre Company production of BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS.
Joining them are some of Cincinnati’s hardest-working actors. A favorite comedic lead of Cincinnati Landmark Productions, Roger Pille lends his talents playing the funniest man in the bible: John the Baptist. He joins fellow HWT veteran Randy Bailey, who with Pille has appeared in a combined seven of the scrappy company’s productions. Cincy Fringe veteran Lisa DeRoberts makes her HWT debut following a turn as Candy/Maurice in The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s production of MADAGASCAR. Narrator Mike Moskowitz is a 60-year veteran of the Cincinnati theatre scene. And in a role seemingly written for him, longtime local character actor and comedian Mike Dennis makes his HWT debut as Manuel, the satanically possessed pig.
Kaleb King is an emerging talent from Northern Kentucky University who has recently starred in the university’s productions of KISS ME KATE (Paul) and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Oberon). King takes on the onerous task of portraying an earnest Jesus of Nazareth amid low-brow chaos. A new graduate of Walnut Hills High School and pupil of BARABBAS director Sherman, Kendall Young has nonetheless amassed an impressive professional resume, including A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), THE JUNGLE BOOK and THE LEGEND OF POCAHONTAS (The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati).
BARABBAS CAST AND DESIGN TEAM
- Jesus of Nazaeth – Kaleb King
- Barabbas – Rory Sheridan
- Trudy of Nazareth, Ensemble – Maggie Lou Rader*
- John The Baptist, Pontius Pilate, Ensemble – Rodger Pille
- Manuel, Ensemble – Mike Dennis
- Mary, Peter, Ensemble – Lormarev Jones
- Guard, Ensemble – Randy Lee Bailey
- Elisabeth, Judas, Ensemble – Lisa DeRoberts
- Lydia, Ensemble – Kendall Young
- Voiceover – Mike Moskowitz
- Director – Mike Sherman
- Costumer – Jim Stump
- Sound Designer – Hunter Spoede
- Stage Manager – Clare Jaymes
- Producer – Joshua Steele
- Assistant Producer – Justin Woolums
- Graphic Design – Greg Glevicky
* The Actor appears through the courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
ABOUT HUGO WEST THEATRICALS
Hugo West Theatricals is the lunatic hobbyhorse of Cincinnati-based writing and producing team Mike Hall and Joshua Steele. Mistakenly called “smart playwright[s] who know how to surprise an audience in unexpected ways,” their often sold-out productions have been dubbed “smart and funny, amiable and high energy” (River City News) and “riotously funny but infectiously endearing” (Cincinnati Citybeat).
Founded in 2012, HWT has produced award-winning stagings of original, adapted and existing works: DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS: THE CEASE AND DESIST MUSICAL; A KLINGON CHRISTMAS CAROL; HOT DAMN! IT’S THE LOVELAND FROG!; ZOMBIE-LOGUE; CESSNA; THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH: A LIVE PERFORMANCE; and SUMATRAN RHINO.
BARABBAS is HWT’s sixth Cincinnati Fringe Festival entry.
# # #