“Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions” written by Erik Ransom. Interview by Maya Contreras.
The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions” written by Erik Ransom.
Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Erik Ransom: "Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions"
MC: What is it about?
ER: It’s about the Second Coming of Christ. He returns to Earth as an unassuming, wholesome kid named Josh Crenshaw who wants to spread a message of love and hope to the world. He decides the best platform for his message to reach his base is a televised singing competition called “American Icon”. Meanwhile, Damian Salt, a glam pop icon in the vein of Lady Gaga or David Bowie, is struck a blow by Christian extremists and declares war on God. The Glamageddon ensues!
MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
ER: I was considering the place Christian religion holds in modern American politics, and those people in power who seem to take the Bible very literally. There have been rumors that there is some cabal of politicians in Washington who make policy based on the assumption that we are living in the End Times and that The Rapture is imminent. I thought this was silly, so I wrote “Coming” as an attempt to literalize that idea and to put The Book of Revelation into contemporary language. Admittedly that language is irreverent and sardonic, and that endeavor turned into the glittery piece of passion-camp that we’ll be presenting in the New York International Fringe Festival this August!
MC: That was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
ER: This was one of those (ironically) divine experiences, where I felt like a conduit through which the story was flowing. I know that sounds abysmally banal, but the first draft came out in five sleepless days. That first draft was sixty pages of text, including fourteen original songs. I think the biggest hurdle has been the revision process. It’s been honed a lot over the years and, being what it is, it changes with the trends. In the first reading the “American Icon” portion had a Simon Cowell-esque character, but the latest draft has a J. Lo.
MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
ER: I really enjoyed finding the humor and creating quirky characters. Mining the Bible for dirty jokes and pop-culture references was a total blast, and since I was writing with no plan or outline, each new scene and song was a surprise to me. I remember sitting in my car waiting at a traffic light when I came up with the ending, and I could not wait to pull over and write down the idea while it was fresh!
MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
ER: It’s a thrilling, terrifying honor. When I got the acceptance e-mail my face was a comedy/tragedy mask. First I was like, “YAS!” Then I was like, “Oh wait, fundraising…” And, now that things are really moving along, I’m just over-the-moon at this opportunity to present this show to a brand new audience! It just means so much to me to have an opportunity to do this show at all, and the fact that it happens to be in an internationally renowned and respected festival in the world capital of musical theatre? Not too shabby!
MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
ER: www.comingthemusical.com Twitter: @ComingMusical Facebook: www.facebook.com/comingthemusical
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To feel appreciated for the things I put out to the world, to be understood and for that to sustain me.
What is your greatest fear?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Inability to listen to/comprehend others.
Which living person do you most admire?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Eight inch platform fetish boots.
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Faith.
On what occasion do you lie?
When the truth offers no value:
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Which living person do you most despise?
George W. Bush.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Sustained”, “I’ll allow it”.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My creative career.
When and where were you happiest?
On stage opening night of “Coming” in Philadelphia.
Which talent would you most like to have?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My tendency toward excessive eating/drinking.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The creation of art that people believe in, care about and invest in.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Where would you most like to live?
What is your most treasured possession?
Probably my iPhone, unfortunately.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When one has literally nothing to look forward to.
What is your favorite occupation?
What is your most marked characteristic?
What do you most value in your friends?
Ease of communication, intelligence, candor.
Who are your favorite writers?
Thomas Mann, George R. R. Martin, Jamie O’Neill
Who is your hero of fiction?
Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Who are your heroes in real life?
The Three D’s. Richard Dawkins, Clarence Darrow, Charles Darwin.
What are your favorite names?
Damian, Aleric, Connor, Drake.
What is it that you most dislike?
To be regarded with condescension.
What is your greatest regret?
Non. Je ne regrette rien.
How would you like to die?
What is your motto?
The duty of an artist is to lead an interesting life. The duty of a muse is to disappoint.