Mafair sews up 'Cotton Patch Gospel' at Fun Fest

Jessica Fischer • Jul 13, 2011 at 3:40 AM

All three nights of Mafair United Methodist Church’s “Cotton Patch Gospel” production are sold out, but folks still have a shot at catching a sneak peek of this Southern-fried musical adaptation of the Bible’s books of Matthew and John. Mafair will open its July 17 dress rehearsal to the public. No ticket is required for the 3 p.m. “performance,” a warm-up for its Fun Fest shows July 19-21 at the church, 1401 E. Center St., in Kingsport. “Cotton Patch Gospel” is just the latest in a string of productions by Mafair’s Music/Drama Ministry. Written by Tom Key and Russell Treyz, with music and lyrics by Harry Chapin, “Cotton Patch Gospel” premiered at the Lamb’s Theater in New York City on Oct. 21, 1981. Between 1968 and 1973, Dr. Clarence Jordan, a Southern Baptist minister, published four books in which he translated the New Testament into colloquial Southern language. These “Cotton Patch” versions were brought to the attention of Key, an Atlanta actor and playwright, when he was contemplating a play that would transplant the story of Jesus into the mid-20th century American South. Read the expanded version of this report in the print edition of the Kingsport Times-News or its enhanced electronic edition.

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