by Debra Miller
Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent
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.
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 21 original songs that keep his audience enraptured.
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 (one with the cast emulating the poses of Christ and the Apostles in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper), 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.
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!