Music takes the lead in Sheridan church’s first Christmas cantata

By Darrin Clark • Last Updated 10:23 am on Thursday, December 08, 2011

Joseph (Ed Koutz) and Mary (Audra Tyler) take the baby Jesus to the temple, where they meet Simeon (Jim Wilcox) during the Sheridan Assembly of God Church’s drama. — Daily News/Lori Hansen

SHERIDAN — Sheridan Assembly of God Church is adding a Christmas cantata this year to its long-standing tradition of presenting an Easter drama.

“Changed by a Baby Boy” is a two-hour presentation of music and drama telling the story of Christ’s birth and the meaning of his presence.

“I’ve written, directed and produced children’s plays before, but this is the first time I’ve done an adult production,” said Bob Morrow, a retired elementary teacher and local author who wrote “Changed by a Baby Boy.”

Being a fan of Southern Gospel, especially of the Gaithers, Morrow said most the the music used came from the Gaithers’ recordings.

“I listened to different renditions of songs, such as ‘Joy to the World,’ and chose the one I liked,” Morrow said. “I picked the songs first and then wrote the script to fit around them.”

The play’s musical numbers offer a range of styles, including Southern Gospel, Negro spiritual, Caribbean, African and jazz. They feature the church’s choir members performing solos, duets and trios.

Through the music and scripture read by the singers, the production begins by telling of an angel who visited Mary, played humbly by Audra Tyler, and announces she has been chosen by God to have a son.

Tyler sings “Great is Thy Faithfulness” while backed by the choir — one of the many well done featured solos.

The angel then visits Mary’s betrothed, Joseph, portrayed by Ed Koutz, and the young family soon travels to Bethlehem where the Christ child is born.

Pastor Jerry Carlson is the featured soloist in a toe-tapping version of “Changed by a Baby Boy.” Val Robbins and Sharon Carlson perform a sweet a capella rendition of “Away in a Manger.”
Following intermission, the Carlsons team up in a duet of “I Call Him Lord.”

Mary and Joseph take the baby Jesus to the temple, where they are greeted by Simeon, played by Jim Wilcox. He sings the soulful “Mary, Did You Know?”

Vicki DeToma, in a part as narrator, tells how God had a message and tried to present it to the human race, everyone missed it.

“But God knew that would happen and he had a plan,” DeToma said. “He planned to send his love down to you as a vulnerable baby.”

The choir closes with an emotional “Yahweh,” an African-sounding tune that tells of Jesus coming to Earth, dying and rising again.

“‘Yahweh’ has so much emotion in it, it is such a ‘wow’ song, where we learn not only of his birth, but also his resurrection,” Morrow said. “It is a real hopping song with a lot of impact and we hope it reaches to the audience, as well.”

If you go…

What: “Changed By a Baby Boy.”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Sheridan Assembly of God Church, 4010 S. Sheridan Road (M-66).

Cast: Gabriel, Bill Ordiway; Mary, Audra Tyler; Joseph, Ed Koutz; Innkeeper, Bill Ordiway; Jesus, Ed Koutz; Simeon, Jim Wilcox; Angels, Shirley Dukes and Julie Koutz.
Scripture reading and narration: Bob MacDonald, Karen Williams, Pastor Jerry Carlson, Lauren Lora, Bill Ordiway, Vicki DeToma.
Crew: Erika Robbins, sound; Louise Briggs, costumes.

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