ATKINSON - Whenever a theater brings back a show within a few
years, you can be pretty sure that it was a hit.
Biblical rock-musicals of Gary Richardson and Danny Hamilton
have become a staple at the Fireside Dinner Theatre of late,
inspiring and delighting audiences for the past four years.
with “The Rock and the Rabbi” and followed by “The
Witnesses,” “The Child” and “David,” the productions
have revisited the classic stories and rendered them
accessible with their mix of humanity and realism.
alternate between a solo narrator and a combination of
orchestrations and vocals. In this segment, Simon Peter and
Jesus Christ are the only two defined characters. The persona
of Simon Peter is divided between a narrator and a singer. The
contrast between the solo narrator telling the story alone on
stage and the elaboration and embellishment of that strand of
the story by the musicians is quite striking, a very moving
collection of instruments is quite unusual, too - lots of
percussion, a guitar, a bass, a fiddle, bagpipes and an
accordion used in various configurations. At times, some of
the instrumentalists join in on the vocals. It seems that all
participants are multitalented performers.
We get to
know Simon Peter, who is very humanly portrayed as a bumbling
fisherman who can’t quite believe that the Messiah has
chosen him to be “Rock.” He would never characterize
himself as particularly solid or strong. This man’s honesty
and humility are disarming. Christ is not as sharply
delineated. We see his powers, his struggle, his influence,
but only through Simon Peter’s eyes.
who also wrote the script, is a storyteller par excellence.
His natural style makes him engaging and easy to listen to.
David Wise as Peter has an enthralling voice, and when he
pairs up with the Rabbi, played by Jason Eskridge, they create
a very harmonious blend.
percussionists, Ian Goodman and Craig Uppercue, are fun to
watch as they work their rhythmic magic with a plethora of
percussive options. Craig Uppercue has a few tricks of his own
to amuse us. The other musicians include Kery Greene on
accordion, Jeff Halsey on bass, Stephen Stadler on fiddle and
bagpipes and Hamilton on guitar.
also wrote the music and lyrics and certainly deserves a lot
of credit for the success of the show.
the Christ” is a powerful number involving the entire cast
in all its glory. This show can be enjoyed by anyone no matter
of what religious persuasion. The story of Christ and his
apostles is a popular one and probably always will be. This
particular take on it is novel and refreshing and makes one
think about the social and personal impact of the historical
Christ again. Reassessment of old beliefs is never a bad