Pope! An epic musical at Fringe Festival NYC
Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk Entertainment.com
Holy Moly! Justin Moran (Book & Lyrics) and Christopher Pappas (Music) have written a terrific and thoroughly entertaining soft rock score for Pope! A clever and hip musical playing at the Lucille Lortel Theatre as part of Fringe Fest NYC. It is filled with one great melodic and memorable number after another.
Nicely directed by Greg Moran with choreography by Megan Ferentinos, Pope! will lift your spirits, give you some big laughs, and charm you with its sweetness. It’s an irreverent but loving tribute to the eternal fight between good and evil and the redemptive power of forgiveness. Done tongue in cheek – taking aim at religion, tabloid reporters, robots, faith, God and “The View” it is played for real with humor that sometimes borders on the ridiculous.
Can an eighth grade idealistic guy named Pope (Ryan Nelson) who becomes a popular Pope some twenty eight years later (likening the unifying power of the Holy Spirit to a blueberry muffin – in song) become Pope again after being excommunicated from the Vatican due to an alleged “sex scandal” orchestrated by the evil and power hungry Archbishop (Scott Hart) aided and abetted by his non too bright cohort Duncan (Michael Campbell) and published by the hungry for headlines tabloid reporter Dexter (Jonathan Roufaeal)?
It’s great fun finding out. Along the way, Mary Elizabeth (Liz Bachman) who was Pope’s prom sweetheart becomes a nun still pining for Pope. Her love for him remaining unrequited for obvious reasons.
“You Ain’t Never Seen a Pope Like Me” sung by the tyrannical Archbishop is a true show-stopper and scene stealer Scott Hart gives it his all. Once he is Pope he is hell bent on returning the Papacy to its warlike and belligerent past and imprisoning (in the basement that has a shag carpet) all those who oppose him. As the Cardinals lament “We Are Going to Die” you’ll be stricken with laughter. Other highlights include “Goodbye O Ye Shameful” and the roof raising “What Would Jesus Do” sung by the entire ensemble.
Jennifer Lauren Brown, Molly Moran, Travis Nilan and Zach Wobensmith play a variety of parts adding to the lunacy.
Oh yes, even God gets to sing a duet with Pope (the original who has grown a huge black bushy beard that he has to sing through). It works. It’s fun. Go. Mirth be with you.