What: "By Jupiter."
When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday, Thursday and July 22-23; 2:30 p.m. Sunday and July 24.
Where: St. Luke United Methodist Church, 3210 Social Circle.
Admission: Free (love offering taken).
"By Jupiter," the musical comedy opening tonight at St. Luke United Methodist Church, is not set out of this world but is hardly down to earth.
The Leap of Faith production, which features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart and book by the two, is set in the ancient land of Amazons, where women assume the masculine roles and men the feminine roles. That world is rocked when the Greeks - with their traditional gender roles - invade.
"It's a lot of fun," said director Caren Manser. "It appeals to such a wide variety of people, and it has a strong romantic subplot. It's a can't-lose choice."
She said the play is rarely produced and she wasn't aware of any Chattanooga theater that had staged it.
Manser said Doug May, her artistic partner who also has a role in the play, brought the show to her attention. He had worked on a production of the musical in San Francisco and was amazed it wasn't done more often.
"The performance requirements were pretty minimal," she said. "It was easy to find a cast for, and every character has an opportunity to get a laugh."
Audience members, she said, needn't bother immersing themselves in ancient history to be up to speed for the show.
"It would help if you weren't," she said. "The play takes a lot of liberties. It's not historically accurate."
"By Jupiter," based on the play "The Warrior's Husband" by Julian F. Thompson, premiered on Broadway in 1942 and starred Ray Bolger.
Manser said it was originally staged as one of the home-front shows during World War II. "It was and is structured to take the watcher's mind off what's going on in the real world," she said.
The humor in the show is based both in language and in physicality.
"It's not a show to make you think or ponder," Manser said. "It just makes you feel good. It's a great show [in which you can] sit and laugh."
Free child care is available tonight and next Friday, July 22, in the church nursery.