"Corpus Christi"

"Corpus Christi" (108 Productions)

NORTH TUSTIN -- A controversial play that portrays Jesus Christ as a gay man is set to open at an Orange County church this weekend.

"Corpus Christi" depicts Jesus with his12 apostles living in the Texas town of the same name in the 1950's.

The show, written by Terrence McNally, opened to protests and bomb threats in 1998 at the Manhattan Theatre Club. It will be performed at the Church of the Foothills on Saturday.

The decision to bring "Corpus Christi" to Orange County was an easy one, according to church Vice President Josh Carr. Carr says it's just another opportunity to introduce people to the Christian church. "If it takes something controversial to do that, we're willing to do it to get the attention so then we can talk to people," Carr told the Orange County Register.

Producer and actor James Brandon says, despite the tumultuous opening, the show is a divine play all about love.

"If people only hear the word 'gay' and 'Jesus' put together without knowing anything else about it, I can see why that is controversial," Brandon told the newspaper. "But if you're to see the play, you'll see how respectfully the playwright deals with this issue."

"We're not at all saying this is what we think Jesus was, or this is what we believe. We're just asking the question, 'Why not?'" Brandon said.

'Corpus Christi" is for mature audiences and touches on religion, the political system and civil rights.

The Church of the Foothills has hosted same-sex marriage rallies and held the first same-sex wedding in the Tustin area in June.

"It's a very important piece right now to be a part of," Brandon told the newspaper. "And it's a vehicle to help gays come to terms with their own spiritual beliefs. A lot of people have been ousted from the church and don't feel they have a place. This show bridged that gap for many people."

The show starts at 7 p.m. The box office can be reached at 714-731-8320. There's a $20.00 suggested donation.