Theater: Martyrs To Sin ELMER GANTRY

Music by Mel Marvin Lyrics by Robert Satuloff and John Bishop Book by John Bishop

The man of God brought low by carnal temptation. The image may seem to leap from today's headlines, but Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker are only the latest in a long line that stretches back to the fictional Arthur Dimmesdale, yearning for Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter. After such falls from grace are revealed, the question always arises: Were the sinners truly devout souls brought to perdition or fiendish fakers from the start? That is precisely the issue raised by American literature's most exuberant portrait of religious hysteria and hypocrisy, Sinclair Lewis' 1927 Elmer Gantry.

The issue, which applies equally...

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