RIGHT OF REPLY / Daniel Abinieri defends his 'blasphemous' musical Bad Boy Johnny

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The Independent Culture
THE CRITICISM

Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom, a rock musical written and directed by Daniel Abinieri, opened in the Union Chapel, Islington, two weeks ago. The critics called it a poor man's Rocky Horror Show, but worse, they yelled 'Blasphemy]' The show closed four weeks early, after only 10 performances.

THE RESPONSE

'People assumed it was meant to be a cult show and a copy of the Rocky Horror, but you can't make a cult. A cult is born; people decide it, not writers or producers. It's not a formula you can set down; if it was, then everybody would be at it.

'In fact, it was nothing like the Rocky Horror. There is rock 'n' roll in it and I happened to be in Rocky Horror for a long time, but I don't see any similarities beyond that. And I wouldn't set out to emulate the Rocky Horror Show; I wouldn't insult my audience or indeed Richard O'Brien. And why would I spend three years writing something, just to copy something else?

'Actually, it's a morality play, about the world's first rock 'n' roll Pope. Obviously our theatre critics hadn't heard of a morality play - morality plays are allegorical pieces, usually in verse, and they used to be done in churches. Snap.

'Staging it in a church, though, was a misjudgement. That said, the show originally opened to enormous success in a church in Australia and there was no fuss whatsoever - and Australia is very Catholic compared to England. But staging it in church did mean that it wasn't judged purely on its merit, it was judged as an event . . . It was made to sound like this awful stick- it-up-God's-bottom show, when it doesn't mock God at all, it mocks men.

'I think the press were trying to smash an acorn with a sledgehammer. As Sheridan Morley said in the Spectator: 'Bad Boy Johnny is about as offensive to the Pope as Rocky Horror was to Dracula.' But hell, they wanted me out, so I got out.'

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