MASS APPEAL premiered off-Broadway in New York City and then moved to Broadway in 1981. Since then it has been performed around the world. It was made into a movie starring Jack Lemmon with the screenplay written by Bill C. Davis. The play was born from the author's inner dilemma. As an artist, does one say what he believes people need to hear or what they want to hear? The play is about the bravery needed to put principles before popularity. Father Tim Farley, an experienced Roman Catholic priest, has made himself popular with his congregation by accepting the Church’s traditional views on such subjects as celibacy and whether women and gay men should be allowed to become priests. Mark Dolson, a young seminary student and candidate for the priesthood, irritates the older priest right from the first scene with his insistence on challenging certain traditions of the Church. And he questions whether one should strive to make things right or sit back, be comfortable and tell the congregation what they want to hear, what makes them feel good. Father Tim Farley and Mark are two specific characters who do battle with each other in the specific universe of the Catholic Church – and yet this drama of “need to hear” vs. “want to hear” could be acted out in many different universes – a law office, a government, a family. The joy and key to this play is that audiences seem to relate to both characters and ironically this has, over the years, been what has given MASS APPEAL its Mass appeal.
Peter Amory and Stephen McGonigle