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How Might your Christian Community Define a “Christian” Musical?

Updated: Mar 29

Choosing what show or piece to produce for your Christian community is likely the greatest responsibility you hold as a Director. Unlike music, acting and dance are not “sacredly held” worship practices.  If a song doesn't go so well in Chapel (or Church), we can still expect music next Sunday.  However, if a play or dance doesn't go so well in Chapel, that might be the last we will see of those expressions for the foreseeable future.

Dancer split leaps in the front row of the dancing ensemble (onstage behind her). Bible parables decorate stage background.

On the other hand, a wisely selected title can provide a springboard for growth on multiple levels…spiritually, emotionally, in our personal gifting, and as a deep bonding experience. This results in deeper love and care toward one another as well as those outside the faith. 

As a Director, your guiding principle must be to know your audience. So here’s the first question you might ask in pursuit of knowing your audience

 How might your Christian community define a “Christian” musical?  What elements do they consider necessary to make it sufficiently “Christian?”

 Do they need to hear scripture quoted verbatim, like the characters in Presentation Day: WORD POWER ?  In this FBSM beginner level original,  Nellie struggles not to let her  “...gossip betray a confidence,” (Proverbs 11:13) right on the heels of studying that very verse.

Five young actors, in cowboy hats, clap their hands as they sing in a semi-circle onstage.

Or would it be meaningful for them to hear a student play out how a Biblical story might look today, in their own culture, such as in our original intermediate level musical, Presentation Day: THE PARABLES ?  Here, the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) become the burger flippers at a burger joint, protesting, “No Fair,” when all workers are paid the same, regardless of the time clock.

Acting ensemble portrays frycooks (in frycook hats) receiving unfair wages from their manager (who is wearing a burger hat).

Or might they be blessed to hear a young person describe how they encountered the Lord’s presence amidst their fears, such as in a show like NERVOUS : The Musical ? In this funny, advanced mini-musical, Becky struggles to, “Fear not, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Or would you hit too close to home if you did a story about a family Christmas gathering where tensions and unforgiveness are exposed, such as in CHRISTMAS IN ROOM 309 ? This is an easy one act musical where students struggle with the pressure to achieve amidst drama in their extended family. Sound familiar?

Two actresses portray Grandmother and Granddaughter connecting emotionally at Christmas time.

 Or is it appropriate to include unsavory characters, as long as their behavior is not glorified and shows growth?  Think about characters such as Carton in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, Mary Magdalene, or the Woman Caught in Adultery. In our advanced mini-musical BACKSTAB: The Musical, we do not candy-coat Dusty’s deep instinct to “get even.” Is this so foreign to any of us?

Or in your Christian community, can you depict unsavory behavior that does NOT necessarily change, as long as those characters serve an overall story of redemption? (Prostitutes in LES MISÉRABLES ? Judas?)  Truth demands that characters not always live “happily ever after.”  At FBSM, we strive to reveal how God is always on the move, even amidst our deepest human failings. We want to allow the Lord a space to work by raising honest questions about the choices that confront our characters, the same choices that confront us daily.

Or how might your community respond to a story  that points to Christ’s redemption, but never specifically mentions Christ, such as NARNIA? In our beginner level mini-musical, RALPH TO THE RESCUE, Ralph grows to a deeper understanding of friendship. Enough said.

Many other factors will play a role in the successful reception of the title you choose for your Christian community. Elements such as the type of event the piece is serving, the physical setting, the day and time,  the age of your cast,  and the production history of your Christian community all play a role. These questions provide an important springboard for further discussion.

On our FBSM blog, we delve into multiple factors to consider when choosing a title.  But for a strong start, we encourage Directors to pray and ponder this overarching question:  How might your Christian community define a “Christian” musical?


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