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Prime Time Prophet

If hell is nothing but bad jokes, "Prime Time Prophet" comes straight from the inner circle. With its drag-queen Mephistopheles, generic music, forgettable lyrics and pancake-flat one-liners, this camp "Faust" would need plenty of soul-selling to rise above its good intentions.

If hell is nothing but bad jokes, “Prime Time Prophet” comes straight from the inner circle. With its drag-queen Mephistopheles, generic music, forgettable lyrics and pancake-flat one-liners, this camp “Faust” would need plenty of soul-selling to rise above its good intentions.

Half of the dozen musical numbers (in an overlong first act alone) could be cast out to the show’s benefit. Thanks to a few game cast members, “Prophet” has a genial spirit that can keep an audience from too much fidgeting.

Story has the devil (here called “B.L.,” as in -zebub) taking human form to corrupt the only honest man on earth, preacher Tim Christy (Jonathan Hadley).

B.L. (David Brand) transforms himself into Tina Rae Tanner, a cross between Tammy Faye Bakker and the late Divine, to form a ministry with the Rev. Christy.

Soon Tina has the earnest Tim using the Word to hawk a line of worthless merchandise, but even when straining to hit the easy target of televangelism, “Prophet” manages to miss more than it scores.

Kevin Connors’ lyrics are on par with Randy Buck’s pedestrian book, and his music is standard-issue show-tune pop with a few other genres tossed in half-heartedly. Connors also directs, with an apparent fondness for having his cast simply face the audience and deliver its lines.

The performances themselves are a mixed bag, with Hadley outshining his material. Brand is OK in a role that begs for at least some genuine wit, but Janet Aldrich is overbearing as the preacher’s goody-goody girlfriend.

Beth Glover and Marcus Maurice play the devil’s demon helpers and the musical’s vehicles for exposition. They do their jobs, although Maurice, like the entire endeavor, tries too hard for far too little.

Prime Time Prophet

(Players Theater, New York; 248 seats; $ 30 top)

  • Production: A Prophet Company Ltd. presentation of a musical with direction, music and lyrics by Kevin Connors and book by Randy Buck.
  • Crew: Sets, Don Jensen; lighting, John Michael Deegan; costumes, David Robinson; musical direction and vocal arrangements, David Wolfson. Opened June 10, 1993; reviewed June 23.
  • Cast: Ginger ... Beth Glover Max ... Marcus Maurice B.L./Tina Rae Tanner ... David Brand Tim Christy ... Jonathan Hadley Jennifer McCune ... Janet Aldrich
  • Music By: