SugarBuzzMagazine Review: Taking the Jesus Pill

September 1, 2006

A lot of folks have looked to encapsulate this show in a "this meets that." Our friends at the LA Weekly say this show is "Southern Culture on the Skids meets Jesus Christ Superstar." The LA Times chucks in with "Bob Fosses joins Credence Clearwater on a road trip." The show's producer Polly Parsons and daughter of legend Gram, interviewed in Los Angeles Magazine calls it "Cirque du Soliel crossed with The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

OK, our turn. "Taking the Jesus Pill" is "Hedwig and the Angry Inch boarding the doomed Lynyrd Skynyrd flight, going down in a Blaze of Glory, only to rise from the ashes on Easter Sunday Morning." Glory be. It's a rock opera, Southern Style. Got it?

The evening opened with several dark and lacy dancers. Perched around the club, shaking it on top of the booths that ring this club that used to be a dump. Already we're talkin' 'bout about a Rock and Roll Resurrection. King King is about three blocks east of Highland and Hollywood. This here neighborhood is cleaning up fast, like the Disney-fication of 42nd Street in NYC. Used to be a club for very hardcore Punk, Metal, Goth and Hellbilly. Still is, just a little safer and cleaned up.

Tonight the warm up man, the Right Reverend Tommy Gunn took the stage a little after nine. "I will now perform an act that is known to kill anyone who attempts it. Not only that, ladies and gentlemen, it will kill anyone who is near by!" The Rev lit a cigarette. Tonight was gonna be cool.

Then the Rev did an old Carny trick called "the Blockhead," followed that with a modern rendition of same. I had to look away, I swear to God. The hammer versus the speed drill. An ironic twist not lost of most of us. There it is in a pecan shell.

Traditional versus the modern; a play about the clash of good and evil, the spiritual and the carnal, the rhythm and the blues. This musical play is about sex, love, God and getting'drunk and getting lost and getting found.

Writer and central character, Charlie Terrell is a Leon Russell look-and-sound-alike. Soulful and funky. We'd say New Orleans ifin' the programme didn't already say he hails from 'Bama. Now, is his character Good or Evil? The Lord or the Devil? Or just a narrator? (Hey maybe God is just a Narrator?!)

Star, Nikki McCauley as Tina the Preacher's Daughter and Fallen Angel meets Johnny 3:16 played by Brando Karrer. They fall in LOVE, she runs away and ends up in a strip bar where drunken preacher papa has it out with John. Best scene is a battle of the Scripture Quotes. In between there are at least two Crazy Mama's, some sin, some stripping, a sleazy club owner and more singing and dancing.

The direction, by the sleazy club owner, one Loe Peracchio needs to be a little tighter and sharper to match the material in our estimation.

We loved the back up band for Charlie Terrell, The Mojo Monkeys, who are Dave Raven on drums and vocals, Billy Watts on guitar, Phil Parlapiano on keyboards and Taras Prodaniuk on bass. Very Dr John, very New Orleans. Sound track is avail at Amoeba.

Our friend Cameron Dye was on hand to say hello to his friend Producer Polly, daughter of his hero. "You look so gorgeous!" to me. Smart lady. After seeing this show, Cameron remembered a line from a crazy documentary "Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus:" 'You gotta remember, in the South Jesus and the Devil are twice as big.

There is something very special between God and Dixie all right. Taking the Jesus Pill nails it. Go see it now so when it's a huge Broadway play and blockbuster you can say. "Oh that? I saw it at King King!"