Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Play to Lampoon Christian Beliefs

'Hell House' spoof to be staged in L.A.

DENVER — Hell House, the controversial morality play first staged at a suburban church for Halloween, is set to be spoofed in a new stage production in Los Angeles starting Aug. 28.
With Bill Maher playing Satan and Andy Richter as Jesus, the play will use the original play's script and special effects "to lampoon (Christian) fundamentalist beliefs about hell", producer Maggie Rowe said Monday.
"It will be a parody of itself. It will be very funny. We're having a hoot," said Rowe, who represents the Center for Inquiry-West, a group which says it promotes and defends reason and science.
The original Hell House, created by the Rev. Keenan Roberts in 1995 at an Arvada church, depicts scenes in which teens fall into hell by choosing abortion, drugs or homosexual activity. The play generated lots of interest, which led Roberts to sell $200 packages including scripts and stage instructions to about 550 churches around the world.
Rowe bought a package after telling Roberts that she was working with a youth group. The name of the play's production company is "The Youth Group."
Roberts, now the pastor of Destiny Church in Broomfield, said he was misled but still sees an opportunity in the production.
"People have been trying to damage this message since they crucified the founder of the movement," he said. "It's exciting. Hell House is going to another state of exposure."
Roberts said he plans to travel to Los Angeles for the play's opening night.

Rocky Mountain News