Blue Mountain College’s Department of Fine Arts hosted their spring play, The Piety Variety Gospel Show, for three nights on February 24th-26th. The show, focusing on a TV ministry in the 1960s, garnered many laughs and an evening of wholesome entertainment for the audience members.
The Piety Variety Gospel Show is a 1960s’ TV ministry hosted by Brother Shelby Green (Eli Parks) and his daughter, Sheila (Hannah Wilson). The show is supplemented by the cast of studio singers (Shiloh Mauney, Daniel Robbins, Caley Sims, Maggie Williamson, Hannah Farrar, Chloe Harris, and Vivian Mitchell). Other lively characters on the show include the elderly Parker Wilson (Kylie Fink) and the not-quite-nun Sister Mary Ethel (Chandler Wall).
For years, the show has been able to air for no charge, but now the station is changing its rules. If the Piety Variety Gospel Show wants to continue, it’s going to have to pay for air time. When Brother Shelby mentions the show’s need on live TV, donations begin pouring in. They suddenly have enough money to stay on the air for another year. The only person unhappy about this is Sheila, who believes that taking people’s money demonstrates a lack of faith in God and that the ministry will devolve into nothing more than Christian entertainment.
The second act of the play proves that her fears were grounded, with the show running advertisements for cigarettes and laxatives while also giving “free gifts” of fortunate cookies and prayer cloths to their donators. The show has become all about the money, and it’s only after a near-tragedy that Brother Shelby realizes how far he has drifted from his original calling and decides to cancel the show.
The play’s central theme, according to director Mrs. Mitchell’s commentary in the playbill, was a “cautionary tale” against prioritizing money over ministry. This play communicated this serious theme effectively, presenting it alongside many humorous sequences. An audience favorite was the section “Dear Abbey,” in which Sister Mary Ethel responds to viewers’ questions by reading from the “Good Book” at random. Parker Wilson also evoked much laughter with her screeching rendition of “The Church in the Wildwood.” “It was good enough to go twice,” stated BMC student Randall Lindigrin.
BMC’s theatre department consistently produces quality performances, and this semester’s production was no exception. The talented cast played their parts well, bringing the Piety Variety Gospel Show to life. Audience members were entertained while also receiving a crucial reminder to prioritize what’s truly important in life.