Cherie Messore Previews

First Look: ‘An Act of God’ at O’Connell & Company

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According to playwright David Javerbaum, if you  prayed to God for a Buffalo Bills win on Sunday, don’t blame Him. Javerbaum’s take on God means that God doesn’t control sporting events. “Except on the rare occasions when it affects the spread,” God says in Javerbaum’s “An Act of God,” on stage at O’Connell & Company January 11 to February 11.

The show had a brief Broadway run in 2015 with Jim Parsons in the leading role, repeated in 2016 with Sean Hayes as God. O’Connell & Company cast Joey Bucheker as the Almighty under the directon of Victoria Perez-Maggiolo.

The script is God’s running monologue as He observes contemporary humanity and makes some revisions to the 10 Commandments and His original vision for humanity on Earth.

Sacrilegious?  Not to most. Hilarious?  Pretty much.  But these are jokes with a purpose. And it’s Bucheker’s irreverent onstage personality that made him the perfect choice for the Almighty role.

“I wanted to bring Joey to God and God to Joey,” Perez-Maggiolo says.  “I had to take those things that are enduring and controversial at the same time and find the commonalities. And we’re letting the funny happen.”

The story is more than that. Perez-Maggiolo says, “The jokes are nonstop and then it hits you in a way that says ‘Oh, so that’s what we’re talking about.’ “

It’s a powerful way to script a show and send home a message.

For Bucheker , “It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. So many words! It’s very smart. Any time you do something modern with religion, it can either be smart or smartass. I didn’t want to do it smartass.”

He’s also sensitive to how the audience may react, but is pragmatic about interpretation. “It’s not an anti-religion point of view. The Bible is open to wide interpretation. The reality is none of us know what it really was: there can be many interpretations.”

Bucheker is quick to say that he’s a comedic character actor and not a comedian. He’s not poking fun at the Bible, God’s word, or religion. He’s interpreting God, as though He has come to Earth, sharing His memoirs,  and has theatrical aspirations. “It’s a very sophisticated take on spiritual comedy.”

Even if the concept of God laughing at life while reflecting and revising along the way is disconcerting, Perez-Maggiolo has her own insight. “ What I want to tell people,” she says, is “ to stick around, it’s worth it, and it’s going to make sense.  There are lots of questions, and these are all questions that should be asked. “

Amen.

“An Act of God” is onstage at O’Connell & Company in residence at The Park School of Buffalo from January 11 – February 11, 2018. For information and tickets call 848-0800 or click here.

Promotional Consideration Paid For By The Theatre Alliance Of Buffalo