News, Reviews & Commentary on Gay and Bisexual Men in Entertainment and the Media

Matthew Passion: New gay play set to open in NYC

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The Passion of Christ. The brutal murder of Matthew Shepard. Living with AIDS. Not exactly three things that you would normally associate with one another, these topics are the basis of a new play called Matthew Passion, set to run in a limited engagement beginning in March in NYC. The play's website describes it thusly:

Matthew Passion tells the story of the passion of Christ; the story of Matthew Shepard being picked up, beaten up and left for dead on a hillside in Laramie, Wyoming, and the story of a middle-aged HIV postive survivor who outlives his life expectancy. Although the three stories take place in three different locations, and are two thousands years apart, they all reflect one another and converge in the final scene.
Traditionally, "passion plays" and musical settings of the Passion (including Bach's Matthew Passion, based on St. Matthew's gospel) are associated with Easter. Fittingly, the show's run concludes on April 8th -- Easter Sunday. This all sounds incredibly dour and heavy, I realize -- but there are a few details that suggest that the play is not all doom and gloom. For one, the show boasts a song called "You Need a Bitch Slap", which has already been remixed for dance clubs by DJ Randy Bettis. And the statement by writer/director Phil Hall stresses that the message of the piece is one of hope and of inspiring change, not of futility. As he notes in his touching statement on the website, "Life is an amazing gift, and we, too, have the chance to leave a legacy of goodness to those who come after us." The play's all-male cast includes Jimmi Kulduff (above left) as Matthew Shepard and James Royce Edwards (above right) as not one, but two Jesuses. Now that's Easter spirit!

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