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Milligan christens new theater with ‘The Witnesses’

WEEKEND SHOW MARKS PRODUCTION’S LOCAL PREMIERE

By LEIGH ANN LAUBE
lalaube@timesnews.net

It’s been 10 years since Gary Richardson and Danny Hamilton premiered “The Rock and the Rabbi” in the renowned Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fla.

Since then, “The Rock & The Rabbi,” the story of the friendship between Peter and Jesus, has been performed all over the United States.

“It takes place over the three years they’re together. Peter and the rest of the disciples are following Jesus throughout the countryside, learning throughout the show who he is,” said Richardson, a former staff member at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport. “Fast forward to almost 10 years later and we’re out traveling on the road. We spend a good amount of time after the show in the lobby meeting people … and people kept wanting more. The story doesn’t end in the Gospels. It goes on in the book of Acts.”

Part two of “The Rock & The Rabbi” trilogy, “The Witnesses,” will be performed this weekend at Milligan College’s new Elizabeth Leitner Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts.

Hamilton has once again written the music and lyrics, as well as arrangements and musical directing. Richardson wrote the script and performs the role of the storyteller.

“The Witnesses” tells the story of the birth of the church as seen through the eyes of Peter and Paul.

“We go through the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, about halfway through,” Richardson said. “The story becomes bigger and bolder and Peter and the rest of the disciples take this story to the rest of the world. … We’re dealing with the same characters. It’s the same type of staging, the same type of writing and it’s a sister story, but it’s different. It gets to be pretty exciting pretty quickly.”

“The Witnesses” features a stage full of acoustic and percussion instruments, from guitars, accordions and cellos to African and Irish drums. Musicians and singers from New York City, Nashville, Orlando and Tampa Bay will bring the rich score to life. Richardson, a Milligan alumnus, is the storyteller who shares his first-person experiences with the dangers and wonders that comprised life in the first century.

“The Witnesses” made its bow at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in October 2007 to sell-out crowds, Richardson said, followed by more sold-out shows at the Plaza Theater in Orlando. He is also in talks with Richard Rose, producing artistic director of Barter Theatre, about bringing the show there. GTC

Kingsport Times Article

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MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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