FLORENCE Local theater director David Hope has known for years that the Bible and its spiritual truths has inspired many a Broadway stage production.
He even came across that affirmation in a book called, "You've Got To Have A Dream: The Message of the Musical," written by Scottish theologian, Ian Bradley.
After reading the book, Hope said he knew at some point he wanted to direct a concert that would show the public, "that some of the most beautiful, inspiring and comforting music ever written for the Broadway stage has as its core message many of the scriptural truths found in the Bible."
So he set out to create that concert featuring 12 beloved songs from 10 classic Broadway musicals.
Those selections will be performed by a 50-voice choir from across the Shoals at 7 p.m. Saturday, at Woodmont Baptist Church, Florence.
The Bible On Broadway event is free to the public and, according to Hope, packs enjoyment for the whole family.
"To my knowledge, a concert of this type has never been done in northwest Alabama," Hope said.
Some of the song selections from the various productions include "Climb Every Mountain," "You'll Never Walk Alone," "One Hand One Heart" (from "West Side Story"), "Sabath Prayer" ("Fiddler on the Roof") and "Children of Eden." A 10-piece orchestra will accompany.
As a special treat for the audience, the closing number which is also the finale to "Le Miserables," "Bring Him Home," will feature special guest Taylor Lamm who played the leading role of Jean Valjean, in the Summer Stock production several years ago.
According to Hope, most people don't immediately associate the Bible with Broadway musicals.
"... if we look a little deeper and really examine the plots and lyrics of the songs that move the plots, we find that over and over Biblical truths serve as the foundation for the message in the songs and very often the entire musical."
One of Hope's favorite examples, and one of the musicals with the strongest spiritual references is "Les Miserables," with its 31 references to God, six references to Jesus, eight mentions of Heaven, four mentions of the soul and explicit illusions to Calvary, the passion and blood of Christ, sacrifice, salvation and sainthood.
"The entire premise of the show is the love and mercy of God and the redemption of man," Hope said.
He said such a concert could only come to fruition with a talented team to work with.
Gene Anne Gifford is the project's vocal director and Becky Foster is musical director and accompanist.
Foster said she enjoys being a part of something that so many people love.
"People love musicals and this is free, so it has a real nucleus to spread across the Shoals," she said. "It's naturally a variety in that there are several musicals involved and the references in some selections may be really surprising to people. And, they're being performed by some really amazing, talented singers."
Soloists include Tammy McCollister, Jill Gatlin, Carol Johns, Mikayla Camp, Salina Fugate, Ann-Marie Patrick, Suzanne Mills, Josh Davis, Joey Wright and Tanner Rhodes.
Choir member Sandra Vetters said the show is timely and unique.
"This is music that many of us have known for 50 years or more and David wants the music to resonate with people today and it does," Vetters said. "This is truly educating people from all over through various community and church choirs and just individuals who love to sing. It's a diverse and well trained group.
It's such a marvelous idea and we've worked to create a broad appeal. It's been so inspiring and is going to be a true gift to the community."
Hope said his desire for the show is one of enlightenment for his audience, "to the bridge between the entertaining world of musical theater and the world of theology and spiritual experience."
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