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'An Act of God' review: Jim Parsons in irreverent yet sweet comedy

Jim Parsons, who has been terrific on Broadway

Jim Parsons, who has been terrific on Broadway in "Harvey" and "The Normal Heart," returns as, well, the King of the Universe in the comedy "An Act of God." Credit: Jeremy Daniel

If you're going to cast the embodiment of the Almighty, the King of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, the Omniscient and the Omnipotent, it makes awfully good -- really, quite heavenly -- sense to go with Jim Parsons.

Of course, if we are to believe the gospel according to the wickedly irreverent yet sweet comedy, "An Act of God," it was the Lord Himself who chose to appear on Broadway in the blithe spirit of a "beloved television star . . . with a winning, likable personality."

Either way, there is Parsons -- otherworldly ridiculous in a big, sparkly white drape, red sneakers and a pastel plaid collar-dispensing wisdoms and smiting what he calls "misinterpretations" from a white sofa on a gleaming platform. (The set is by Scott Pask who, not incidentally, also designed "The Book of Mormon.")

Behind the character known as God is a Deco stairway to the stars and passing clouds, some of them dark. Wrath can be expected. At either side is a winged angel with hand mike (Tim Kazurinsky, endearingly cranky as Gabriel, and Christopher Fitzgerald, touchingly skeptical as Michael).

By now, those not amused by light-fingered, big-hearted blasphemy may assume they will not be amused by the 90-minute summertime entertainment that officially kicked off the new Broadway season. This is, after all, based on a book claiming to be God's memoir, ghost written by David Javerbaum, a former head writer and executive producer of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

The author enjoys -- or, if you prefer, the co-authors enjoy -- the irony of being performed by the star of the "Big Bang Theory" in Studio 54, the infamous '70s disco-turned-theater. Basically, God is on Broadway to rewrite at least some of the Ten Commandments, which now include "Thou shalt not tell others whom to fornicate."

Nobody is too holy to avoid the occasional easy target, including the Chicago Cubs and the old joke about Adam and Steve. But the material -- some framed as questions from the audience -- takes on a satisfying number of Big Issues, including a brilliantly skewed explanation of evolution.

Parsons, who has been terrific on Broadway in "Harvey" and "The Normal Heart," has been delightfully directed by Joe Mantello ("Normal Heart," "Wicked"). Although the performance requires a hellish amount of memorization, Parsons appears to be making all this "godding" up with his usual Texas drawl and his disarming, crooked smile. But don't be fooled. There are sharp elbows under his God costume. He and Javerbaum are not afraid to use them.


WHERE Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.

INFO $55-$199; 212-239-6200;

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