(Photo: Progressive Theatre Workshop Facebook)
A musical opening in New York City next week parodies the controversial Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), a group derided by mainstream Christian and non-Christian groups alike for its protesting methods and contentious messages.
"God Hates This Show" sets WBC spokesperson and daughter of WBC Pastor Fred Phelps, Shirley Phelps-Roper, (played by Erin Markey,) in hell where she is forced to sing her favorite songs for the rest of eternity. Phelps-Roper has three demons as backup singers.
The songs are WBC's parodies of popular Top-40 hits which proclaim the church's anti-gay and anti-semitic messages and warn of God's impending judgement.
"God Hates This Show" features "Rumor Has it God Don't Love you Christians No More" set to Adele's "Rumour Has It," "Stinky Freak" set to Rick James' Super Freak, and "Satan's Lair" set to Simon and Garfunkel's Scarbourough Fair.
John J. Caswell Jr., the founding artistic director of Progressive Theatre Workshop wrote and directed the off-off-Broadway show, which will open next Wednesday night. It currently is set to run for five days.
WBC is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination, and is known for protesting using strong and abusive messages and placards at the funerals of Iraq and Afghanistan War casualties. It thanked God for a a 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China that killed hundreds of people and added that they were praying "for many more earthquakes to kill many more thousands of impudent and ungrateful Chinese." It also intended to protest a Joplin, Missouri memorial service for victims of a tornado in May 2011, but the town's residents refused the group entry.