Jesus H. Christ, is nothing sacred?

In last week's paper I praised the production of Miss Saigon that closed at the 5th Avenue Theatre on Sunday. This week I'm going to slam Miss Saigon--but just one element of it, something that usually escapes critical notice: the program.

In the "Who's Who" section--also known as bios--the cast and the show's directors get to say a few words about themselves. In theaters where you're seeing actors who don't have many credits to list, bios are often clogged with annoying inside jokes and shout-outs. When you're at a professional theater, however, the bios get more restrained. Actors list roles they've played in the past, and maybe mention where they studied. Short, relevant bios are one of the hallmarks of professional theater.

The 5th Avenue is supposed to be a professional theater. So why are the bios in its programs so unprofessional?

I'd like to give a shout-out to Raul Aranas, Kingsley Leggs, Joey Matta, and Khanh Doan, serious professionals with serious bios. Their professionalism stands in sharp contrast to most of the other members of company. Wives, agents, parents, siblings, and children are thanked; one cast member dedicates his performance to his great-grandfather; others wish various family members a happy birthday; some mention their pets. "Love to Chrissy!" "Thanks to my family and especially Mikey! Love ya like a fat chocolate éclair!" "To mom and dad: Happy retirement!"

But the worst are the Christians.

Apparently Christians just have to bear witness wherever the fuck they plop their asses down these days--no opportunity to shove their faith down our throats can be resisted. When we're no longer safe from proselytizing Christians at a musical--the original faggot art form!--something is deeply, deeply wrong.

It starts in the very first bio in the program. Emy Baysic, who played the role of Kim on Broadway and at the 5th Avenue, sends love to her "family, friends, God and Noel." I'm sure God was pleased. Eric Ankrim's bio ends with this one word sentence: "Church." Go sing in one, Eric. The worst offender is Candice Donehoo, who played Ellen: "Candice… is truly thankful for all the support over the years from her friends and family, including her husband and two children, but gives God the glory for the opportunities and experiences He's granted."

Where to start?

Candice's bio is the theatrical equivalent of dancing in the end zone and pointing a finger toward heaven, or giving Jesus credit for the Grammy your violent, misogynistic rap album just won. Not only is it unprofessional, it's practically blasphemous. Apparently Candice believes the same God who sat idly by when parents watched helplessly as their children were swept out to sea in the Asian tsunami, the God who didn't prevent the Holocaust--He Who Is Never There When You Really Need Him--that God is there to help her land parts at regional theaters.

Thanking God for the part or touchdown or the Grammy isn't piety, Candice, it's narcissism.

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