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"Resurrection" UMC (Voronezh): The Christian musical by Oleg Pozharsky
Our church «Resurrection» UMC (based in the city of Voronezh and led by senior pastor Alexander Pererva) created and has been running an original Christian musical «The Last Room» for the last 3 years. The show meets with invariable success - we have a full house! The musical is based on the novel «The Hotel of My Heart» by Edward Pashnev.
Music for this drama is written by me and arranged, scored and recorded in our church studio by myself. Natalia Smirnova, one of our parishioners and a student of the Moscow UMC theological Seminary, took the major weight of the director's job. During the shows, she is responsible for directing lights. Creating the decorations and the overall creative theme of the show has been a joint effort - we were coming up with ideas while going over the text, improvising scenes with the performers, etc. My wife Irina Pozharskaya is the artistic director, she developed set decorations and made actors' masks by hand. She is also the sound operator. As for the costumes, each performer came up with and arranged their own.
The musical features 15 roles, but we only have 8 performers. So basically each performer plays about two roles. Mind you we don't have any professional actors, our cast is all amateurs and members of our congregation: pastor Alexander Pererva, Irina Hotmahor, Irina Efremova, Irina Sevastyanova, Ilya Polyakov, Natalia Shishakova, Anna Tikhonova and myself.
The work on this musical has really engaged everyone in a wonderful and collaborative way and has led not only to deeper connections between our church's parishioners but even to evangelization, which is even more valuable, of those volunteers who are not members of the church, mostly my students from vocal classes. And now one of my students is attending worship services and has become a member of the church choir!
Since the musical is a non-denominational Christian show, we invite not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but a much wider audience – people from other confessions and churches, our friends, colleagues and acquaintances from the secular world, those who do not know God yet, or know very little, and are often lost since they don't know where to find God and learn and experience more.
Here is a brief summary of the plot. Once upon a time, on the eve of some Holiday, many people gathered in one hotel to celebrate this festivity. One of the guests among them was Satan (played by me), who was able to penetrate hidden corners of the visitors’ hearts. When Satan is about to commence his destructive work, we hear a knock on the door – Jesus has arrived to spend the night. Jesus does not appear on stage; He does not give the cue. He is just an image of light. The rest of the musical is unfolding along the lines of the same battle a la F. Dostoevsky – the battle between the God and Satan inside our hearts. The culmination is reached during a tense moment when the protagonist (the main hero, a Painter – Rev. A. Pererva) is about to give up and succumb to the masterful and cunning ways of the Satan, but suddenly he calls on God, and this sincere prayer is enough to secure salvation. «Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your household will be saved» (Acts 16:31). Just so, thanks to the salvation of the Painter, the other occupants of the hotel are able to rid themselves of the Satan's powers.
I recorded a CD with the songs and arias from this musical at the church studio. The entire cast took part in the recording. The show itself is always performed live, this was my main requirement for the creation of this musical – we want the performance to be as natural and authentic as possible, the voice of the performer is presented as it is on that given day, whether sick or not. The rest is vocal technique that I devote a lot of attention to. We have just finished making audio and video recording of this musical - the five cameras shot the show at the same time. We are excited to see a video version of the musical in the near future that we would like to share for people's viewing at home and also on the Internet.
However, the technical support of the musical could definitely be improved. We would prefer to have a better a headset with a microphone rather than a simple hand-held microphone limiting movement during the performance. By the way, we usually sing without any mikes, since the acoustics of our church space allows us to do so. But in order to be able to perform the musical elsewhere outside of our church, such headsets with mikes will not only be useful but essential.
We hope to be able to proudly showcase our musical at the festival celebrating 125 years of Methodism in Russia, to give festival's guests and RUMC members a chance to participate in the spectacle. An even bigger goal is to bring this show to other churches and congregations, across Russia and abroad! «Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this» (Ps 37:5).
a deacon of the «Resurrection» UMC (Voronezh, Russia)
Translate by Victoria Kolesnikova & Oleg Pozharsky
Photo by O. Pozharsky
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