Sweet tea, grits and gravy, a little spring fever and a brand new retelling of the gospel come together to entertain the Lincoln community in the 2017 Union College original musical “Jubilee Road.”
“It came about because Pastor Rich asked me if I would do the Easter play, and I said ‘No, but I’ll do an Easter-themed play’ for the usual walkthrough,” Hadley explained, “so that was the motivator to present the life of Jesus.”
The inspiration for making it a bluegrass-inspired southern experience comes from Hadley’s own life. Having grown up in South Carolina, he decided it would be the best way for him write this well-known story.
“It’s about the truth of the principles of gospel,” he said with smile. “They are timeless and they apply to any story, not just the times of the Bible. The gospel story works no matter the era or the place because it is universal.”
An additional twist to this traditional story is its original music, mostly written by Union’s favorite adjunct, Mike Mennard. Hadley also wrote several songs and alumnus ‘16 Ben VandeVere will be performing in the production helped to co-create a song as well.
“We’re focusing on the bluegrass style, but it’s definitely more than that,” VandeVere shared. “It’s going to range from country to bluegrass to folk-music. Those are our inspirations.”
If you peek into Woods Auditorium you’ll see some of the sets coming together, with a comfy front porch and covered wagon adding to the deep south atmosphere. Rehearsals can be grueling, but that hasn’t deterred the actors, who took a few minutes to share what they love about the experience.
J-Fiah Reeves, junior theology major, is well kown for his storytelling voice and powerful sermons. He'll be playing the narrator, guiding us through the life of Jesus. “I love telling stories, so I feel like it’s not that hard to act it out because it’s something that I love to do. I determine the emotions, starting with me that scene can be funny or sad.” He grinned, enthusing, “I’m the human transition.”
Hailey Hornbeck, sophomore elementary education major, and Maddie Temple, junior english major, were both excited for specific scenes and songs.
“My favorite song is ‘Better Get Ready,’ because the song is so happy, and there’s so much sass and pizazz. And, I absolutely love the energy,” Temple gushed.
Hornbeck added, “I’m a kiss-up, so imagine a soprano as a bass voice being a kiss-up.”
Music, humor, and story aside,there’s more to this production than just what will be seen and heard. Ultimately, Hadley wants people to show up, not just because of all the hard work that’s being pored into it, but because the magic of theater can’t be capture anywhere else.
“People should go to more theater, as in live theater, and not a movie,” Hadley said seriously. “You connect with characters and the story, creating a palpable energy you can’t get chilling and watching netflix or a movie.”
If you’re raring to see Jubilee Road, opening night is Thursday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m.. It’ll run until Easter weekend, Sunday, April 16 at 2:30 p.m., with shows also being at 7:00 p.m. on April 8, 13, and a Sunday matinee on April at 2:30 p.m. as well.
Regular tickets will be $10, while students will receive a one-time coupon code for a $5 ticket. Tickets should be available online, visit ucollege.edu/drama for more information.
Graci Escobar is a junior studying English.