“His Story The Musical,” the highly anticipated new musical about the life of Jesus Christ, opened May 18 in an imposing Broadway show tent at Grandscape in The Colony. After watching the tent raising in March, and meeting Anna Brown, who wrote the music for His Story when she was only 17, I was eager to see the final production.
Brown, now 22, has stayed closely involved in the production of the inspirational musical. She wrote the music and lyrics after listening to the soundtrack for “Hamilton,” the musical that brought American history to life for a new generation. She hopes to ignite a similar spark and quest for knowledge among those who don’t know the story of Jesus in her generation.
Max Kuenzer as Jesus
Many of the extremely talented, young and energetic ensemble cast members hail from Texas cities or universities. Max Kuenzer, who plays Jesus, is originally from Plano, and performed regionally before moving to NY to continue his musical training. Kuenzer is perfectly cast in the role of Jesus, with his lovely voice and a persona that radiates peace and love. He totally commands the audience’s attention whenever he’s onstage.
Jateria Heyward, who plays Mother Mary, is great as the young virgin who’s surprised to learn the Savior she’s been praying for will be her son. She sings one of the most emotionally moving songs in “His Story,” reminding God that “He’s my son too” when she learns of the terrible sacrifice required of Jesus. Logan Dolence plays her intended husband, Joseph, and also gives a memorable performance. Mary and Joseph perform one of my favorite songs from the musical, “From the Moment,” proclaiming their love for each other.
Bryan Munar, who plays Simon Peter, and Mat Blasio (Nicodemus) provide a few unexpected moments of levity to the musical. Casey Lamont stars in several huge production numbers as Lucifer, first trying to coax Jesus into showing His powers during His 40 days of fasting in the desert with “The Easy Way.” Lucifer is more successful seducing Judas (Richard Chaz Gomez). Judas and Mary Magdalene (Lily Gast) are portrayed as a pair of sinners, (and Bible students may be surprised to see them working the streets together before meeting Jesus). In the musical, Mary Magdalene repents and follows Jesus and his disciples, while Judas stays mostly on the fringes before finally betraying Him.
His Story cast members
Everyone in the musical is well cast, and they all display superb dancing and singing abilities. It can be slightly confusing when they change characters mid-stream, though, since most of them are double cast. A friend whispered, “Why is Caiaphus (Courtney Blanc) at The Last Supper?” I whispered back, “She’s Phillip now.”
Additional cast members include Caleb Bermejo (Pontius Pilate/Tribe); Camden Deal (Leper/Tribe); Ja’Naye Flanagan (Bartholomew/Tribe); Carlos Gutierrez (Gabriel/Tribe); Lia Karagianopoulos (James/Tribe); Abby Murphy (Thaddeus/Tribe); and Justin Taylor (Matthew/Tribe). Gigi Hausman (Trbie Swing/Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain); Nicholas Haas (Principal Swing); Audrey Lee (Principal Swing); and Mark Quach (Tribe Swing) are also in the cast.
The creative team for “His Story The Musical” are primarily from NYC, and both lead producer Bruce Lazarus and Director Jeff Calhoun have impressive Broadway hits on their resumes. Willie and Korie Robertson of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” are also producers of the musical, along with Matthew Churchill Productions. Dallas theatre supporter Brad Reeves is one of several co-producers of the musical.
His Story Choreographer Eamon Foley
Choreographer Eamon Foley has coaxed dazzling, extremely physical movement from the young cast. Rick Hip-Flores is Music Supervisor/Orchestrator/Arranger, with Pawel ‘Bzim’ Zarecki as Arranger and Jesse Fry as Music Director. Robin Ost is Scenic Designer for the minimalist set, where cast members sometimes portray inanimate objects such as rocks. Junghyun Georgia Lee is the Costume Designer, and Sooner Routhier is Lighting Designer. Daniel Lundberg is Sound Designer, and Caite Hevner is Projection Designer.
“His Story: The Musical” is recommended for ages eight or above, and children two or younger are not admitted. Tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com, and range in price from $39 to $219 depending on seat location. VIP tickets are priced at $239, and include access to Nebraska Furniture Mart VIP Lounge, a glass of champagne or sparkling juice, and a gift. Special rates are available for groups of 20 or more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Performances of “His Story: The Musical” are Wed.-Sunday in the Broadway Tent at Grandscape, 5752 Grandscape Blvd., The Colony.