LA Weekly Stage Review: Taking the Jesus Pill

July 5, 2006

The seamiest underbelly of American Southern Christianity comes under attack by rocker Charlie Terrell, who brings his original album to life with gothic, melodramatic scenes of sex, drugs, booze, murder and false religion - all placed between his combination of rock-a-billy and bluegrass numbers with his band the Mojo Monkeys. The Christian-infused drama follows the plight of Johnny: 316, sharply played by Brandon Karrer, a drifter who falls for a preacher's daughter (Nikki McCauley), garnering the wrath of her Antichrist father (Michael Childers). Each scenelet is gloomier and more depraved than the previous as we move to some sense of redemption. This is really not a rock opera as advertised, since only the band members sing, but it is an interesting form that brings rock audiences into the theater - with enormous enthusiasm for the songs, the overwrought play, the ubiquitous dancing girls and the generous drinks in this frightening, overcrowded venue.