Director Bobbie Jeffrey and Playwright and Lyricist Deborah Craig-Claar reflect on Calvary’s Spring Musical, One Voice.
In March, Calvary’s Theatre and Music Departments performed the musical, One Voice. When CU’s president, Dr. Christopher Cone, first asked Theatre Department Head Bobbie Jeffrey to produce a biblical musical, she contacted her friend and mentor Deborah Craig-Claar about adapting Craig-Claar’s Easter pageant One Voice for Calvary’s theatre.
One Voice follows the ministry of Christ through the eyes of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Craig-Claar said, “I have always been fascinated with the big cast of “secondary characters” in the Bible. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were two such characters and I have often wondered not only how these two Pharisees came to a saving knowledge of Christ, but when and where they finally professed their faith to the world and to each other. Now there’s a story! And I finally decided to try and tell it. The result was One Voice.”
When it came to adapting the script for CU, Craig-Claar said, “I think it comes down to a simple shift of focus: the larger pageant version focused on events; the musical theatre version emphasizes characters… The human story is what is central to good theatre and that’s what became front and center for Calvary’s production.”
Jeffrey commented, “I think some of the strongest moments of our particular show came as a result of our limitations.” Ceiling height limitations made it most practical to have the crucifixion happen offstage, which became one of the show’s most powerful moments. Jeffrey also noted that they didn’t have enough people for the final scene. “We only had probably fourteen people left on the stage when we got rid of all the people who had played bad guys. So at that point I just made a decision that that had to be a point where we took off the mask. We had the entire cast come back… and they were themselves as they sang the final verse and chorus of One Voice.”
The power of the story’s beauty reached more than just audiences and the director; it found it’s way into the cast as well. After the production, the cast and crew circled up to pray and discuss what they had learned through the process of the show. Jeffrey said, “A lot of their reactions were that there was such an incredible sense of unity among the cast. And no one said this because it would have been cheesy, but they spoke with one voice more than any other experience they’ve had in a show.”
Reflecting on Calvary’s production, Craig-Claar said, “I am so blessed and honored that even after 26 years, this show seems to keep finding a new perspective and a new voice. As I watched Calvary’s fantastic production, I remember thinking ‘Most of these actors weren’t even born when I wrote this.’ But that’s the eternal message of Christ’s story, isn’t it; it never fades, it never ages, it is ever present and forever life-changing.”