Saturday, November 13, 2010

Show #64 "Oliver!" at St. Luke's Community Theater

I started off the evening not sure what to expect. Would this production of Oliver! be an entertaining, quality show or would I have to endure two hours of amateur-ish performers who had this collective delusion that they were doing theatre?

All I knew for sure was that I was excited about this whole concept called St. Luke's Community Theater Group. It is the perfect blend and partnership between two of my favorite entities: the community of faith and the community of theatre.

The folks at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Federal Way have been doing theatre for years. When they re-modeled and expanded their sanctuary over a decade ago, their then-pastor informed me that the new sanctuary was designed for both worship and theatre. What a marvelous thing!

And it still is marvelous. The stage is built right over the spot where sermons are preached and worship music is sung. Multiple exits/entrances were built into the frame of the sanctuary, as well as an orchestra pit. From the pews in the audience, there was not a bad seat in the house. Yes, this space works marvelously for a large cast musical.

There was no actual preaching going on in the theatre. In the last two pages of the program, there was information printed about the church, their staff and the schedule for worship services. Just a simple, low-key invitation to join them on any Sunday to praise God.

The best part of this whole wonderful arrangement? You guessed it, it was their production of Oliver! It was also marvelous! This "burned out" theatre patron was revived once again!!

I can't say for sure, but the cast appeared to be a combination of St. Luke's church members and other actors from the greater theatre community. The youngest performers were only pre-schoolers, portraying either orphans or Fagin gang-wannabes (or both). The other young actors were anywhere from early elementary school through high school ages. All were professional and focused in their demeanor and were a pure joy to watch.

The adults were a mixed bag of performers, but my friend Mizu and I were pleased with the quality of most of the principal actors. Of course, this shouldn't surprise me. If a community of Christians is going to use theatre as one of their avenues to draw in the greater community of Federal Way, doing "bad" theatre would not help their cause, nor would it necessarily glorify God.

But, praise God, these theatre artists are also believers who can sing, act and dance. I've always believed in using your talents and interests for the glory of God. Here is an entire church dedicated to this very thought!

Oliver! made for a perfect evening of theatre. The music from the show had me singing all the way home. The blending of Christian outreach and the arts made me sing praises to the LORD. Mizu and I discussed on the drive home about the long association between art and the church. (If you don't believe me, listen again to the music of JS Bach and review the art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.) St. Luke's continues this sacred tradition.

Thank you, St. Luke's. The glory of the LORD shone upon you last evening!

Thanks to Oliver! cast member Mitchell Chinn for posing for this photo.

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