church in Washington state is adding a dash of Broadway flair to the
Bible by sponsoring a musical on the well-known parable of the prodigal
recent Saturday afternoon, dancers practiced the tango in the sanctuary
of Federal Way United Methodist Church in Auburn, and an
internationally acclaimed opera tenor belted out a tune in the basement.
church was alive with the sights and sounds of final rehearsals of an
original Broadway-style musical. The cast includes professional actors
and dancers, as well as sought-after singers.
just unbelievable, the cast," said Andrew T. Miller, who wrote and
produced the musical. "A director friend from another company called me
and said, 'How did you assemble that group of folks for this show? It's
going to be amazing.'"
The church commissioned Miller, its music director, to write and produce an original show drawn from a story in the Bible.
Prodigal" is based on Jesus' parable of a rebellious son who leaves his
family, blows his inheritance on loose living, and is accepted back
home with forgiveness and unconditional love.
of where you go or what you've done, there's a love for you that's
greater than you are - that's always there with you," Miller said.
UMNS photo by Les Fetchko
Andrew T. Miller (left), who wrote and produced �The Prodigal,� looks over the score.
T. Miller (left), music director of Federal Way United Methodist
Church, looks over the score for �The Prodigal,� a Broadway-style
musical based on the parable of the prodigal son, with Robert Puff. A
UMNS photo by Les Fetchko. Photo number 04-022, Accompanies UMNS #021,
church first staged "The Prodigal" in its sanctuary last spring. Six
sold-out shows and tremendous audience response convinced church leaders
to re-offer the musical, this time to a larger audience. The current
show opened Jan. 21 at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien,
Wash., a venue capable of seating 800 per night.
star Robert McPherson, a longtime friend of Miller's, plays a leading
role. The story's universal appeal persuaded him to participate, he
think in a lot of ways, everybody can find themselves in 'The Prodigal'
because at one time we've all been a prodigal of some sort," McPherson
said. "We all went out on our own journey to only find out that it was
at home all the time, it was in front of us and we just couldn't see
performs internationally in high-profile shows. This production rises
well above what most would expect from a local church, he said.
whole idea was not to do a church musical, it was to create a show -
and have a show that is exciting, entertaining, beautifully done" and
with moving music, McPherson said.
addition to re-mounting the show, the cast is recording a CD with the
Seattle Symphony. Miller said he's even heard from contacts in New York
about possibly producing the show on a bigger scale.
knows what may happen? But I think the possibility is there because I
think there's a broad-based appeal for the common guy," he said. "To me,
the story is about God's love, and always has been and always will be."
It's a message the church hopes to take from the basement all the way to Broadway.
*Riemland is a UMNS correspondent based in Seattle.
News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.