by Paula Citron.
Written by Paul Ledoux and David Young
Directed by James MacDonald
Starring Ted Dykstra, Rick Roberts, Nicole Underhay, Richard McMillan and John Wright
At Bluma Appel Theatre until Apr. 19
In 1986, the rock/gospel musical Fire by Paul Ledoux and David Young was a distant snapshot of the religious right. In 2008, the production is more terrifying given the insidious influence of the American bible belt.
The musical’s inspiration is real life cousins – rocker Jerry Lee Lewis played by Ted Dykstra and evangelist Jimmy Swaggart performed by Rick Roberts. In Fire they are brothers, and according to their preacher father played by Richard McMillan, both are damned. All three actors are magnificent. The talented cast also includes Nicole Underhay as the girl in the brothers’ lives, and John Wright as her shady father.
The creators make the case that rock and roll and evangelism are kissing cousins in both showmanship and depravity. While Ledoux wrote four numbers for the show, the real and well-remembered songs pour relentlessly off the stage like advancing lava. All these years later, Fire packs an even greater wallop.
Fire continues at Bluma Appel Theatre until Apr. 19.