WEST END UMC’S 4TH STORY THEATER PRESENTS WORLD PREMIERE OF “THE GLEANER’S SONG: A STORY OF RUTH” MAY 16-18, 2014
Written By Michael Williams With Music Composed By Harry Robinson, “The Gleaner’s Song” Offers A New Perspective Of The Story Of Ruth Found In The Bible.
NASHVILLE, TN / April 30, 2014 - The 4th Story Theater and West End United Methodist Church’s Drama Ministry will present the world premiere of “The Gleaner’s Song: A Story of Ruth” a new musical play written by Michael Williams and Harry Robinson on May 16, 2014 at 7 p.m. “The Gleaner’s Song” runs May 16-18 at the 4th Story Theater at West End United Methodist Church (2200 West End Avenue).
“The Gleaner’s Song” is the story of Ruth as found in the Book of Ruth in the Bible. This is a fresh version of the story that is set in the mid 1800’s in California and Iowa. Naomi, her husband and two sons move to California to “strike it rich” in the gold rush. Her sons marry Native American women, Ruth and Orpah. The father and sons are killed in a mining accident leaving Naomi, Ruth and Orpah alone. Naomi and Ruth move back to Iowa where they face hard times, prejudice, romance and new birth.
“‘Gleaners’ grew out of conversations between Harry Robinson and me about how much we loved the book of Ruth from the Bible. That was almost five years ago. During a renewal leave four and a half years ago, I wrote the first draft of the book and lyrics. Since that time Harry has been hard at work composing the music, and the book has gone through several revisions,” says playwright Michael Williams. “The story as ‘Gleaners’ tells it is set in the era of the California gold rush but addresses topics that are alive and well today such as discrimination based on ethnicity, race, economic status and even religious background. At its heart though, it focuses on the courage and determination that Ruth demonstrates. Ruth refuses to be left behind by Naomi and is willing to glean (an ancient equivalent of the welfare system and a dangerous undertaking) and suffer other indignities in order to make sure that she and Naomi will survive. This probably sounds like the play is entirely serious, but it’s not. While ‘Gleaners’ is not your typical musical comedy, it does have its humorous moments, and I hope we handle some very serious subjects with a light and graceful spirit.”
Performances will be in the 4th Story Theater at West End United Methodist Church May 16-18 at 7 p.m. with a matinee on Sunday, May 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Children ages 5 and under are free, but do need to reserve a ticket. Seating is limited to 150 per show. Tickets can be bought online at westendumc.org/gleanerssong or by calling the church office at 615.321.8500.
For all media requests, please contact Shelley Kuhlmeyer (615.321.8500 | firstname.lastname@example.org.)
About The 4th Story Theater
Newly revived, the 4th Story Theater at West End United Methodist Church features a state-of-the-art facility for theater production. Housed on the 4th Floor of the church building, extensive remodeling and work has occurred over the last few years to make the venue one to be sought after. For more on the 4th Story Theater please visit westendumc.org.
About Michael Williams:
Michael Williams is currently serving as Senior Pastor of West End UMC and is an elder in the Tennessee Conference. He became active in theatrical production in high school and later earned a B.A. in Drama (Vanderbilt) and following his M.Div. a PhD in Religion, Speech and Theatre (Northwestern). His first play to be produced was an adaptation of a short story by Andrew Lytle” Jericho, Jericho Jericho” while he was still and undergraduate, and a few years later he authored the children’s musical “Vision at Caney Fork” for the Model Cities Program in Cookeville, TN. IN 1973 he was part of the first cast of “The Smokey Mountain Passion Play”. He studied improv at The Piven Theatre Workshop with Joyce and Byrne Piven in Chicago and had performed in numerous community and educational productions. Michael is perhaps best known as a storyteller, has been a featured storyteller at The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee and has taught at the National Institutes of Storytelling.
About Harry Robinson:
After 25 years touring with country artists, Harry settled down as Director of Music and Arts at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Franklin. Back in his youth he graduated from Leland Powers School in Boston with a two year degree in theater. Since then he has appeared in countless plays and TV shows as a musician and actor. He has been a composer for the guitar for nearly fifty years, with two solo albums and several group projects released over that time. His songwriting credits include cuts by Linda Davis, Tommy Overstreet, Doug Stone and others. He has also had songs and instrumental tracks in many motion pictures. His co-writing adventure with master storyteller Michael Williams has been a wonderful ongoing experience.