By Holli Harms
Sharonville Ohio, fictitious, representational, a town like so many small hamlets in the United States. Places where pools of hormones have teenagers wallowing in angst, holding them in polar confusion as to what they should be striving for – popularity, or the desire to simply blend in, or step out with their artistic talents and show their unique flamboyant selves. Towns in America where parents (the sweet loving Lauren Elder) want the best for their children, and good teachers (the marvelous Badia Fahra) reach out to help those students in trouble and those they see with great potential. It’s also a place where fear is peddled by the closed minded on local news and radio shows and where religion plays its role in the community of like mindedness.
Sharonville is the home of Heather Krebs (the radiant Brittany Nicole Williams) who knows that no one understands her and she is, “pretty sure neither does she.” Heather is exactly where she should be at 17 years old – trying to figure it out. But she has a little more to figure out than most kids as she has a gift that quickly lifts her to sainthood with some and devilhood with others.
Heather may be a modern day Messiah. She is a good person, confused, but good. She volunteers to spend time with an elderly woman, Agatha (Katey Sagal). What Heather likes about Agatha is that Agatha can’t speak and so Heather gets to dump all of her angst onto Agatha’s lap with no fear of bad advice or “so sorry” emotions befalling on her. Dump and goodby until next week. What Heather doesn’t know is that there is more to Agatha than meets the eye.
Paul Gordon’s musical appears on the surface to be a seemingly nice family musical about growing up and moving on, but it’s more than that. It is a political call-out to the division in this country and the fake news that inhabits many radio and television shows. Gordon’s story is relevant to right now as we see so many push-backs to our freedom. As some politicians work to make America Great Again for a limited group and to an “Again” that never really existed negating this vastly eclectic and diverse country of ours. The character of Booker Ralston, (played with friendly sleaze by Jeremy Kushnier) is a local podcaster whose main goal is to demoralize and devalue the beliefs of woke America, “Good morning, Sharonville and welcome to the Booker Ralston Show: Is cancel culture coming after your God given right to silence those you disagree with? Is the liberal media forcing you to take reactionary positions you already believe in? Are your ideals being trampled on by immigrants determined to replace you from doing the jobs you hate?” Booker is the town bully and the voice of all bullies.
The Gospel According to Heather is retelling of the story of Jesus, of those who followed him and believed in him, and those who fought to destroy him. It is the story of Scrooge and his transformation, it is the story of teenagers and how they discover their own worth and belief and love for self.
The musical numbers are radiant, heart-warming, tongue in cheek hilarious. The cast is a marvelous ensemble of voice and story. This is a musical of hope, magic, and fighting through to understanding.
The Gospel According To Heather Book, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Klein.
With: Carlos Alcala, Lauren Elder, Badia Farha, Maria Habeeb, Zach Rand, Jeremy Kushnier, Maya Lagerstam, Carson Stewart, Wayne Wilson,Brittany Nicole Williams and Katey Sagal
Creative Team: Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Klein, Book, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, Jonathan Bauerfeld Music Director, Jodie Moore Music Supervision., Christopher and Justin Swader Set Design, Jamie Roderick Lighting Design, Sawaan Tiwari
Costume Design, Sean Hagerty Sound Design, Brendan McCann Props Design, Josh Iacovelli
Production Manager, Morgan R. Holbrook Stage Manager and Kelly Merritt Assistant Stage Manager
Performances at Theater 555 (555 West 42nd Street. )
Performance Schedule Thursday 7pm, Friday 8pm, Saturday 2pm and 8pm and Sunday 3pm
Performances have been EXTENDED through July 16th, 2023
Running Time: 1 Hour 40 minutes NO intermission.