We always love a good play that gets our brains thinking and hearts pumping. Corpus Christi, the passion play by Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally that depicts Jesus as a gay man living in modern-day Texas, is exactly that.

Highly controversial when it was first produced in 1998, Corpus Christi tackles issues of issues of equality, spirituality, and separation of church and state. The play is incredibly relevant today, and a local production will take place at the Metropolitan Community Church-LA in Los Feliz on August 25.

“It's a story about love,” James Brandon, the actor who plays the gay Jesus, tell us. “It's a story that allows everyone the same benefits of love, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or otherwise.

“It's a moving piece of theatre that continues to spark intense controversy, but ultimately is the most spiritually and uplifting piece of art I've had the privilege to be part of — and is anything but controversial in nature. What is so controversial about love?”

Gay and lesbian audiences have deeply connected to the play, and Brandon and his fellow actors are bringing Corpus Christi and its important themes to the Midwest. The August 25 performance in Los Angeles will be a fundraiser to pay for that expensive trip.

Along with the play, they will give Midwestern audiences a sneak preview of the documentary about touring with Corpus Christi over the past six years, which has changed the lives of cast members and people who've seen the play.

“We decided to take the film, alongside performances of the play, to select 'less tolerant' cities across the nation in hopes of igniting a deeper dialogue on LGBT rights and religion-based bias by teaching self-empowerment through this educational outreach,” says Brandon.

In Los Angeles, the documentary, titled Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption, will be shown at the MCC-LA on August 24.

The Midwest tour is part of a larger campaign called I Am Love, which seeks to confront religious intolerance of the LGBT community.

“Our entire [theatre] company has volunteered their time along every part of this journey simply because they all believe in the healing and educational power of this show,” says Brandon, “and we look forward to continue spreading this message of inclusive love for all people far beyond our immediate reach.”

For more information and tickets, go to the Corpus Christi movie web site. The film starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, August 24. The play takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 25.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

LA Weekly