A Musical Parody About the Westboro Baptist Church Is in the Works
After two bombs went off last year at the Boston Marathon, Joe Creedon’s television screen—much like everyones—became inundated with local news coverage, all of it showing the same clips of the initial blasts over, and over again.
The footage at first got to him, but he couldn’t seem to pull himself away. Then, as news of the deaths of spectators at the finish line started to surface, something else got to him, too— a Tweet from members of the Westboro Baptist Church, the controversial congregation known for their anti-gay signs, slogans, and protests.
“I remember thinking to myself that day, ‘I wonder when the Westboro Baptist Church is going to chime in on the bombings,’ and then they sent out that Tweet. It said they were going to picket the funerals of the victims,” said Creedon. “I was mad. It worked, they got to me.”
But not for long.
Minutes later Creedon decided the best thing to do to turn the negative and hateful speech the church members were churning out on social media in response to the bombings was to dish it right back, and find a way to bring humor to what they were saying.
And thus, the concept for a musical parody based on the teachings of the Westboro Baptist Church was born. “This idea for the show just came into my head, and suddenly I wasn’t mad anymore, I was laughing,” said Creedon, picturing the members of the congregation dancing around on stage, singing songs along to a plot line he had yet to create.
For nearly a year now, Creedon, a comedian and regular at ImprovBoston, has been working on the play in some form, long before the religious group’s founder, Fred Phelps, passed away. He said he hit a couple of snags along the way and for a bit the project stalled, but he recently teamed up with director Pablo Rojas, operations manager at Improv Asylum, and Ministry of Theater to get the gears moving in order to bring the play to the stage by this summer.
“When Joe approached me about the project, I said, ‘let me see the script,’ and I was reading it and I found myself laughing out loud,” said Rojas. “I started imagining it on stage and daydreaming, and then I realized this was something I had a real interest in and definitely wanted to get involved.”
Described as a “musical comedy” parodying members of the secular group, called “God Hates Musicals”—they’re poking fun at the “God Hates F****” posters that Westboro Baptist Church supporters hold at their protests—the play is now in pre-production mode.
Creedon said he had to do a lot of research on the group in order to craft the plotline, but he wouldn’t say what the premise of the play would be. “I’m not going to reveal the plot, but lets just say it’s a love story. People can expect to have a very funny, and very critical and humane evening when they come see it.”
Rojas and Creedon gave a sample of the type of songs attendees could expect to hear, like “Get Gay for God,” which is sure to get under the skin of those affiliated with the church’s practices.
But Creedon isn’t too worried about the backlash he might encounter from the congregation. “We are prepared for it. I’m sure they will say something, but hopefully they don’t go so far as digging things up about me. I’m sure they will smear me on social media, though,” he said.
Rojas and Creedon are planning on hosting invited readings to get feedback from comedians and actors they know within the tight-knit the theatre community, followed by some public readings to get input from a broader audience, before the play hits the stage. They also plan on holding open casting calls for anyone that wants to be a part of the musical production.
The duo is still scouring the city and talking with local theaters and venues to find the perfect place to unveil their musical creation, but they already have some promising leads. “Hopefully when people see the play they will come out of it not just more informed about the Westboro Baptist Church, but also a bit better equipped to handle them when they say they will protest something like a national tragedy,” said Creedon.