Jesus Hates Me

The Chance Theater production of “Jesus Hates Me” closed last weekend at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA and it was a brief but great run.

The Chance Theater (where the show was initially performed in January 09) was approached about doing this show last year and jumped at the opportunity. South Coast Rep had been looking for ways to partner with other theaters in Orange County and make use of its Nicholas Studio space. It seems they thought our show would be a good fit.

Unfortunately, of course, when the show was struck last year, we had no idea we’d be remounting it. The scenic designer was contacted and asked to update her design. The set was rebuilt and loaded into the space. Luckily, we were able to get most of the original props and costumes. The music and sound effects had remained intact.

As for lighting, I was blessed and cursed. I had the Nicholas house plot to work with, which is great. A tremendous amount of fixtures, all in good condition, arranged in a very nice plot providing front, side, and backlight for multiple acting areas. The downside is that we had very little time once in the space plus we’d have to restore any changes we made (or pay SCR staff to do it). We had time nor money to do neither. I added 8 LED fixtures and 5 Source Fours and we swapped out their console (an ETC Insight) for a Hog II (so much easier to program LED’s) and called it done.

After a quick hang and touch-up focus, I started programming Monday. We had invited previews on Wednesday and Thursday, then opened on Friday.

The shows went very, very well. Orange County, CA is home to the greatest number of churches in one county in the United States (a mind-bogglingly hilarious fact given the rampant greed and hypocrisy that characterizes the OC). The show tends to divide people based on its title alone, which is annoying and sad.

Yes, the show is a little racy, The language is a little salty. The situation is, intentionally, heightened and outsized. One character (out of five) has significant issues with religion and what he perceives it has done to his mother. It’s not an anti-religious diatribe, nor is it an anti-faith play. It’s a free-wheeling script, written by Wayne Lemon, loaded up with fully drawn characters and ribald humor. It also takes a couple unexpected dramatic turns, allowing you to see different shades of the characters. Our cast was on fire for these performances and their work illuminated the script even more, crackling with witty dialogue and believable interplay (courtesy of director Oanh Nguyen).

The shows sold out quickly and we ended up adding a performance the second weekend. It appears to have been a success for everyone involved. The show has a future and I hope you get to see it one day…