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Hell on Earth is Heaven on Stage – Erik Ransom’s Coming

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January 30, 2011   ·   0 Comments

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Love child of Rocky Horror and Ziggy Stardust, glam-rock anti-Christ, atheist with a scholar’s knowledge of the Bible, heir to Sodom and Gomorrah, a disaster in lipstick: Erik Ransom is all that and more. He is one of the hottest artists in alternative theater in Philadelphia.

Ensemble from Traverse Art Projects’ Coming by Erik Ransom, posed to emulate Christ and the Apostles in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, and paying homage to the tableau vivant scene from Jesus Christ Superstar; photo by Ronnie Bullets.

After a Halloween-season run as Carrie in Brat Productions’ drag version of the cult classic, and a cabaret fundraiser, Of Love and Sadism: An Evening with Erik Ransom and Friends, for EgoPo Productions, the actor/singer/musician/composer/performance artist has returned to Philadelphia for Traverse Art Project’s production of Coming—Ransom’s musical on Armageddon now, seen through the eyes of his alter-ego Damian Salt.

With the first draft written in five obsessive and sleepless days, Ransom’s creation, which developed out of his glam-rock persona, premiered at the Prince Music Theater as a full-length two-act “rock musical of Biblical proportions.” Ransom penned not only the script, but also 21 original songs that keep his audience enraptured.

Michelangelo’s Pietà is the source for this tableau vivant of Damian Salt’s (Erik Ransom’s) rock lamentation, “God Hates Fags,” after his lover (played by Ryan Townsend) is killed by a gay-bashing mob; photo by Ronnie Bullets.

In Ransom’s version of the Apocalypse, Damian Salt, rock idol and devil incarnate, seduces “American Icon” contestant Josh Crenshaw, a naïve Christian from Bethlehem, PA, who just happens to be the Second Coming of Christ. Witty references to Judeo-Christian iconography abound in the staged promotional photos, and throughout this thought-provoking re-evaluation of traditional concepts of virtue and vice, good and evil.

According to Ransom:

In a broader sense . . . it deals with religion and how it interacts with sexuality, fame, and love. I also toy a lot with the idea of Sodom and Gomorrah and the sins we attribute to those cities. Homosexuality as vice, versus normalcy as righteousness.

In the end, all the “good” people are taken up to heaven, so the “sinners” can live their lives in peace, in “hell on earth” (without interference from the bigots, homophobes, misogynists, and other self-righteous zealots of the “moral majority”), and J. C. reaffirms the virtues of love, acceptance, self-expression, and diversity.

Adam Hostler as Josh Crenshaw and Erik Ransom as Damian Salt in Coming, proving that everyone looks better with a little eye make-up; photo by Ronnie Bullets.

A talented young cast of rising stars (Adam Hostler, Cindy Spitko, Paul Del Signore, Ryan Townsend, Colleen Corcoran, Maya Tepler, and Wade Harris) support the stellar Ransom, and the wigs, make-up, and costumes by Bobby Fabulous are nothing short of their namesake designer.

Coming runs through February 7 at the Prince Music Theater’s Independence Black Box Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $20 in advance (at 1-800-595-4849), $27 at the door (discounted rates for students and seniors are $15/advance, $22/door). Be sure to dress for this one!

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