The ‘Pope’ joined a slew of French revolution figures for the 21st annual Bastille Day performance at Eastern State Penitentiary on Saturday.
The parade of characters, including Marie Antoinette, Joan of Arc, Napoleon, Edith Piaf, Benjamin Franklin, Mayor Michael Nutter, an oversized TastyKake, and a working guillotine, took the stage outside the grim walls of the historic prison.
Cardboard signs reading “Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!” were held up as the summer sun set over Fairmount Avenue in the City of Brotherly Love.
Each year, the main story of how Marie Antoinette is brought to justice is slightly updated with current local and national events. “The entire history of the French Revolution in one hour” is produced by the Bearded Ladies Cabaret.
This year, the Philadelphia-based comedy troupe included references to Pennsylvania education reforms, the lowering of the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina, and marriage equality.
The Pope put in an appearance, sparing the life of the Queen of France. The real-life Bishop of Rome is scheduled to visit Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility when he attends the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in the Fall.
During the show, Marie Antoinette shouted from high atop the walls “Let Them Eat TastyKake!” moments before thousands of packages of sugary treats were hurled over the walls into the crowd below. The guillotine-bound Queen of France was portrayed by local restaurant owner Terry McNally, and the show was emceed by French icon Edith Piaff, portrayed by the Bearded Ladies’ artistic director John Jarboe.