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Oklahoma City elected officials keep their distance from controversy over play

Competing demonstrations are planned in Oklahoma City outside the Civic Center when “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” opens Thursday.
by William Crum Modified: December 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: December 2, 2013

Jane, a scarf around her shoulders, works out a dance scene.

Mabel enters the room from backstage, a plastic container filled with snickerdoodles in hand. The cookies are a hit with cast and crew.

So begins a rehearsal for the play dozens of pastors have labeled “gross pornography” and a Christmas-season affront to Christian values.

“The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” opens Thursday at CitySpace, a small, spare theater in the basement of the Civic Center Music Hall.

Fifteen years after Oklahoma City endured a costly legal battle over efforts to suppress the Oscar-winning film “The Tin Drum” on grounds it was obscene, elected officials presiding over the city's economic renaissance are keeping their distance from this controversy.

In the long run, that may be to the city's benefit.

Threats to the arts are a “powerful game-changer” as cities work to attract investments that produce good jobs and sustain growth, said Scott Hamilton, executive director of the Cimarron Alliance.

“Companies don't want to come to a state or a city that doesn't support the arts,” he said.

Officials respond

Paul Rudnick's play opened in New York in 1998. It has homosexual characters, includes simulated homosexual sex, and satirizes biblical stories, including the creation story.

The original included full-frontal nudity, though that's not part of director Rachel Irick's production.

Playing off the story of Adam and Eve, Adam encounters Steve in the Garden of Eden.

Later, a lesbian couple, Jane and Mabel, insist they were Earth's original inhabitants.

State Rep. Dan Fisher, a Republican who is a pastor in Yukon, first said Christian leaders would pressure city leaders to block the production.

Opponents later backed away from that, calling instead on the Oklahoma City Theatre Company, a community theater, to cancel the production.

But in a letter addressed to elected leaders including Mayor Mick Cornett and Gov. Mary Fallin, pastors from the metro area and cities, including Tulsa and Enid, asked why it was necessary “to mock the Bible in the Christmas season?”

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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