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Jesus-The Wonder Years

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JESUS--THE WONDER YEARS, Corn Productions, at SweetCorn Playhouse. The smugly sanctimonious will hate this play, but everyone else should come unto the SweetCorn Playhouse to see the second installment in the company's "Passion Follies." This troupe brags, "We're not a theater, we're a party"--and the results back up the boast.

Industriously irreverent yet strangely innocent, this wicked 70s-style fusion of the Wonder Years TV series and Christ's midcareer crisis is written and directed by Robert Bouwman, perpetrator of the popular Tiff and Mom series, which also took place in Berwyn. Here a very suburban Jesus (a holier-than-nobody Brad Norman) describes his conflicts with a very Jewish mother (the hilariously strident Maureen Grogan), his dating problems with the whore he left behind, and his adolescent identity crisis: he got sick of being perfect. In short order Jesus both protests and fights in Vietnam, does the disco scene, is tempted by a buxom devil, recruits a blue-collar backup group (in the cabaret rouser "Follow Me"), and performs 20 ass-kicking miracles in one busy patter song. After thwarting Pharisee Bueller and other snobs, he cleanses Temple Berwyn of money changers and embarks on a peppy Palm Sunday entrance into Chicago.

None of this should work this well--which just may prove there is a God. Scott Lamberty's wicked musical parodies, Shawn Martin's disco-drag threads, Michelle Renee Thompson's funkadelic choreography, and the ensemble's never-say-dumb esprit are all sinfully funny.

--Lawrence Bommer

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