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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Sacrifice and direction plot ‘The Christians’
Production runs Sept. 13-Oct. 1
Published Tuesday, September 12, 2017 8:28 pm
by Herbert L. White

The cast of "The Christians," which makes its Charlotte debut Sept. 13 at Booth Playhouse.

Are you willing to sacrifice everything you believe in?

That’s the question posed in  “The Christians,” which makes its Charlotte debut Sept. 13-Oct. 1 at Booth Playhouse in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The play has been performed in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, and Louisville, Kentucky.

The Charlotte production will be directed by Steve Umberger, founder and artistic director of Charlotte Repertory Theatre and The Playworks Group, and is being produced by The Playworks Group in association with The Pine Hill Project. Tickets are $15-$45 and available by visiting www.thechristiansonstage.com.

“The Christians” revolves around megachurch Pastor Paul (Brian Robinson), whose mission to create a church began in a modest storefront some a couple of decades earlier. Now presiding over a congregation of thousands, a mortgage burning celebration threatens to engulf his church, congregation, and family with a new definition of faith.

Umberger is excited to be working on the play “in a way that reminds me why I like doing this work,” he said. “Theatre is sometimes perceived as ‘elitist,’ so unfortunately sometimes we have the feeling we’re ‘preaching to the choir.’ So it’s great to find a play that speaks to a much bigger choir – literally.

“I feel that everyone, regardless of age or beliefs, will find something fascinating in this story. It’s not easy to find plays that so beautifully represent and express all sides of an issue. This playwright is a major new talent. He has a very unusual gift.”

“The Christians” includes a live choir at every performance with singers from several churches and denominations in the Charlotte region. Dareion Malone of UNC Charlotte and an active member of Charlotte’s music community, is the music director.

Umberger has directed, produced, and developed plays as well as film/video projects and has developed arts centers and theatres, including The Playworks Group and Charlotte Repertory Theatre, the largest professional theatre for adults in the region.

The cast is made up entirely of North Carolina-based performers: Graham Smith, who, like Robinson, has numerous stage credits with CRT. Chandler McIntyre plays Paul’s conflicted wife Elizabeth. Jonavan Adams is Joshua, the associate pastor who challenges Paul’s new direction of the church, and West Charlotte High School graduate April C. Turner, who plays Jenny, a congregant on a heartfelt search for the truth.


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