If you're sick of seasonal sugarplums, a little blasphemy might be in order. Blasphemy: The Unholy Trinity of Musicals opens as a fundraiser for the Bartell Community Theatre on Friday, Jan. 9. The production was written by Catherine Capellaro and Andrew Rohn, whose Walmartopia ran off-Broadway for four months in 2007 after being launched at the Bartell.
Blasphemy is made up of three separate musicals. "They all have a religious element," says Capellaro. "They're all potentially blasphemous, depending on your perspective."
Two of the three acts previously were workshopped as "Blitz" productions, in which scenes are written, cast and rehearsed overnight; they've been reshaped since then. The newest act, "Paradise," Capellaro says, is "a much more philosophical, spiritual, secular, animalistic extravaganza, that has a ton of connections philosophically and politically with what's going on in the world - connected by religious themes and also by outrageousness."
Featured characters include Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and Adam and Eve. "Eve is actually a mutant ape that Adam has taken away from her family to start the human race," says Capellaro. "So she's really wrestling with the fact that he says he's talking to God, and she can't talk to God and wants to know why that is. Their whole life is thrown into chaos when they encounter a fish with legs that pops out onto the land."
Just a year ago the Bartell was rocked by infighting, but not anymore. To premiere the musical comedy, all six Bartell member companies are coming together.
"There's been a real effort on the part of people coming into power in the different companies to work together," says Bartell managing director Sarah Hoover. The Bartell Theatre is shared by Encore!, MadCAP, Madison Theatre Guild, Mercury Players Theatre, Stage Q and Strollers Theatre.
Says Hoover, "It's really been symbolic of the spirit of cooperation that I've seen more and more of in the last six months, that all six resident companies are working together to make this [fundraiser] a success."
Funds raised could be used for several purposes. "It will depend on what direction the board wants to go in," says Hoover, "but we could add a volunteer program, we could add training programs, we could add a development program, we want to add some marketing capability - all of which would support the member companies, but all of which would take some income."
Capellaro says, "We wouldn't be who we are without the Bartell - 'we' as in Rohn-Capellaro, but we as a community, also. It's been an enormous boost for our creative juices and our understanding. Without having an option for the community to work at this level, who knows if our shows would have seen the light of day?"