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"An Act of God" |Broadway Review at CurtainUp
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A CurtainUp Review
Act of God

A New God Shares His Wisdom With Broadway Audiences

sean hayes
Sean Hayes

The 2015 review with Jim Parsons as God

For lo, I have endowed him with a winning, likeable personality; and know of a certainty that your apprehension of My depthless profundities will be aided by his offbeat charm.— God explaining his borrowing Jim Parson as his stand-in for 90 minutes
An  Act of God
Jim Parsons (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)
Give God an A+ for making Jim Parsons his stand-in on Broadway. Comedy writer David Javerbaum, who ghosted the book on which it's based (The Last Testament: A Memoir by God), has custom-tailored the show to this winning heavenly presence. While the show, retitled An Act of God, is not the sharpest satire to have hit the Rialto, Parsons delivers the comic riffs with charm and flawless timing. He's a good enough actor ( Harvey, The Normal Heart) o justify what's essentially a stand-up act's presentation at a Broadway theater that's been home to some major plays and musicals — several of which like Cabaret are included in God Parsons' ruminations (with the holocaust part of that show's book rather tastelessly justified with "no holocaust, no Cabaret").

According to this mostly genial, and at times curmudgeonly, heavenly deity, another neighborhood hit about religion, The Book of Mormon, also gets his attention. According to God Parsons The Book of Job is a lot funnier. And with Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon's award winning designer on board, Parsons' heavenly surroundings are indeed Broadway worthy, especially as spectacularly lit by Hugh Vanstone.

The pivotal idea of Javerbaum's riff is that God has grown as weary of the Ten Commandments as "Don McLean has grown weary of American Pie." And so his 90 minutes at Studio 54 are structured around an update of that iconic rule book for all human behavior. The new Ten Commandments end the uncertainty as to what God desires from humanity and will this time be given without an intermediary to the Jewish people.

To aid Parsons' God in this endeavor are two angels with giant wings, Gabriel and Michael. Gabriel's (Tim Kazurinsky) task is to introduce each commandment by reading an appropriate excerpt from the Bible. Michael (Christopher Fitzgerald) is charged with wandering through the audience to solicit questions for God to address. This audience participation business isn't as funny as it aims to be, and illustrates how star quality actors like Fitzgerald are often under-utilized.

While the emphasis throughout is on wringing maximum laughs from God's observations on various biblical subjects, there does come a point were things get a bit darker and more meaningful. A welcome touch since it further showcases Parsons' range as an actor, though it would benefit from a bit of trimming.

Between Parsons and director Joe Mantello, one of the theater's busiest and best directors who returned to his acting roots in 2011 to perform with Parsons in The Normal Heart, An Act of God is enjoyable and largely amusing light entertainment. Whether it has you laugh nonstop, or sporadically like yours truly, you'll get a big bang out of the ending. It's a knockout that had me wondering if Parsons will end up in a musical that's going to rival both The Book of Job and The Book of Mormon.

An Act of God by David Javerbaum
Directed by Joe Mantello
Cast: Jim Parsons (God), Christopher Fitzgerald (Michael) and Tim Kazurinsky (Gabriel)
Scenic design by Scott Pask
Costume design by David Zinn
Lighting design by Hugh Vanstone
Sound design by Fitz Patton
Music by Adam Schlesinger
Projection design by Peter Nigrini
Illusion Consultant Paul Kieve
Special effects by Gregory Meeh
Stage manager: Arthur Gaffin
Running Time: 90 minutes
Theatre: Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
From 5/05/15; opening 5/28/15; closing 8/02/15
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at 6/03 press performance
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