Do you remember what you were doing in your free time when you were 17 years old? Were you working a part-time job to earn some spending money? Maybe you were involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, band, or a club at school. Perhaps you were simply helping out your parents with their business or the chores that needed to be done around your home. Or maybe you were spending time engaged in personal interests such as reading, art, or a hobby.
Whatever you were doing at 17, one thing you likely weren’t doing was writing a Broadway-style musical. But that’s what Anna Miriam Brown was doing at that age, after hearing the soundtrack to the Broadway musical smash hit “Hamilton” while on a mission trip. Brown, who had begun writing songs two years earlier, was intrigued by the idea of a “Hamilton”-style musical focused not on an American political figure from the 18th century, but on the life of Jesus Christ. Over the next year, she wrote a musical and, with the help of her parents, recorded and released a concept album.
Now, five years later, that musical is about to hit the stage for the first time. “His Story: The Musical” will premiere on May 5 at the new Broadway Tent at Grandscape, located in The Colony, just north of Dallas. Grandscape is a new shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, and will feature “His Story: The Musical” as its permanent show. The Broadway Tent was custom designed for the production and will feature seating for 1,300 audience members as well as 360-degree projection mapping that will display images above the crowd.
How did “His Story” make its way from the mind and heart of a 17-year-old to a full-fledged Broadway-style production that will be performed in a state-of-the-art venue? The musical’s journey truly began when Brown and her parents shared it with Bruce Lazarus, a veteran of the Broadway scene. Lazarus has produced shows such as “Goodnight Gracie” and “Only Kidding.” He also served as the lead legal counsel for Disney’s Broadway production of “The Lion King” as well as the most successful off-Broadway production in history, Blue Man Group.
Lazarus was so enthralled by Brown’s work that he passed it along to another Broadway veteran, Tony-nominated director Jeff Calhoun. Calhoun, who has directed Broadway hits such as “Newsies;” “Grease;” and “Annie, Get Your Gun,” not only took on the project, but also looped in two well-known reality television stars, Willie and Korie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” to serve as producers of the musical.
Why were such heavy hitters from the world of entertainment so excited to get behind Brown’s project? According to the Robertsons, “In every generation, new voices point us to Jesus in unique, powerful, and creative ways. We believe Anna Miriam Brown is one of those extraordinary voices.”
Calhoun echoed the sentiment, saying that, “Anna’s Gen Z perspective has made this familiar story youthful and contemporary … not exactly adjectives I had previously associated with the Bible. I am excited to bring all types of people together to share a message that is so needed today.”
And what exactly is that message? What will audience members experience when they attend a production of “His Story?” In addition to the unique venue, audiences will be treated to a new, contemporary pop musical featuring athletic choreography and electric performances by a cast from the Dallas area. But more important, audiences will see and hear a message of hope and redemption as the story of Jesus is recounted from His birth through His resurrection.
Audience members who do not consider themselves people of faith will still find “His Story” to be a powerful, moving experience. Lazarus and Calhoun, neither of whom consider themselves to be persons of the Christian faith, believe that the production’s larger message will resonate with all audiences. “My prayer is that once audiences experience ’His Story: The Musical,’ they will leave the theater with a renewed optimism about the potential of humanity,” Calhoun says.
“His Story: The Musical” joined Faith Travel Association recently for the purpose of encouraging groups to experience this one-of-a-kind production. Tiered pricing is offered with groups in mind.