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Pope! The Musical – It’s Not Too Late

September 21, 2010

While still at the Bard Festival, performing some of the most challenging and rewarding pieces of my career thus far, I received a wonderful but sadly neglected blog post from my friend about her experiences preparing for and promoting her fringe festival play, Pope! The Musical. After the Fringe Festival had ended, I regretted having missed the opportunity to share it with my readers in time to promote her show as well. Thanks to the Fringe Encore series, Pope continues through this Sunday!  So without any further delay, a show struggling to attempt a very little bit of controversy in a world of fear and Tea Parties…

Our show was asked by CBS to come stand outside and be promoted. We were one of twenty productions chosen out of one hundred fifty from The Fringe. The guidelines were to wear either entire costumes, or bits and pieces, and to bring posters and postcards to wave and handout. We were to be interviewed by the morning show team. When we showed up we were told to remove our costumes (the girls had wimples and veils and the boys had papal caps- one boy was wearing a white beard) because it was offensive, but not to worry, we could still hold the posters. Then another man came over and we were were told that we were not allowed to hold our posters because the title “Pope!” was offensive. He said “either stand there holding nothing, or leave;” both options, of course, would do nothing for us. I offered to compromise; we’d keep the costumes off,  but hold the posters. I continued to say that if CBS was worried that we’d be misconstrued by their audience; which they shouldn’t insult by pandering to the lowest common denominator, we’d be more than happy to explain ourselves on air – as we were asked to do in the first place. Our blurb was to be as follows: “Pope!” is a musical comedy about a man named Pope, who becomes Pope and eradicates the world of evil.

We then watched the camera people and anchors as they were told to avoid us. We continued to watch as the first interview went to women wearing fishnet stockings, mustaches, and writing across their chests that said “Friend of Dorothy” (Not offensive or a hot button issue at all, I guess). Then another show tried to hand out t-shirts to the anchors. The anchors said “We can’t take anything on air that wasn’t made in America. Was this?” The cast said “yes”, and sure enough when we went back on air, they took the shirts. Yet, when I said our show wasn’t incendiary in any way, my word wasn’t good enough.

CBS has every right not to film whatever they want. However, we were invited. If the level of research their staff does is “Is this made in America?” it’s pretty clear why our time was wasted. It would have taken one conversation for us to be prepared to promote ourselves in another way.

If you’d like to come as press to “Pope”- please do. We are the show the CBS called (and this is a direct quote) “too controversial.” We’re trying to invite people to come and judge for themselves.

Three shows remain this weekend, on Friday, September 24 at 7pm, Saturday, September 25 at 10:30pm (enough time to attend Tableau Vivant and Pope! The Musical), and Sunday, September 26 at 4pm at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Purchase tickets at or through Fringe Encores.

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