A.C.T.S. is a group of dedicated individuals from all walks of life who have come together to create and produce Chancel drama.
The following is a listing of the wonderful and assorted dramatic projects that have been produced at Asbury United Methodist Church over the years:
No Name In The Streets
One act, full church production presented as part of the annual Lenten Vesper Service series. The inaugural A.C.T.S. drama. Full production values with a cast of over 50. Edward Murch wrote the drama for a contemporary religious festival in Conventry, England. Additional dialogue was added to incorporate the addition of approximately 25 cast members to the original script.
The Sobbing Stone
One act, full church production. Contemporary Drama Service drama ministry script. A redrafted version added a "Phil Donahue" opening with full, closed circuit TV coverage. The additional script added 25 members to the cast of six.
Original, two act, full length drama. Written by Kirk R. Brown and based on the extent medieval Mystery Cycles from York, Coventry and Townley. Musical additions were from p-existing choral numbers that were worked into the fabric and flow of the text. It was given in three performances over three nights in Lent. Large cast included Chancel Choir, three children's choirs, and a speaking cast of over 50 people. Full production values covered the range of Biblical epic from Creation, Lucifer's Fall, and The Garden of Eden in the Old Testament, to the full story of the Ministry and Passion of Christ in the New. The full production involved well over 300 Asbury and community members in the final analysis.
The Light (Second Production)
First Presbyterian Church in Allentown reproduced the drama with many of the original leads and all of the originals costumes and set design. The script was rewritten to include all of the changes and corrections that there was not time to include in the first.
A.C.T.S. of Worship
Four groups within the church sought to make drama in church more accessible to the masses. Each group selected a play from our large working inventory, chose a director, and the produced a short skit. They were tied together with an assortment of special musical presentations and the first-ever Sacred Dance performance. Over 100 Asbury members participated.
Original, three act musical drama. Music by Phyllis Hentz, book by Kirk R. Brown. Complex dramatic story was based on the life of Pontius Pilate as Governor of Jerusalem, his relationship with Claudia his wife, and their infant daughter. Small cast of 10 with full production values.
The Master Glazier
Original, dramatic first person sermon at two services on a Sunday morning. It was based on the life of a real medieval stained glass artist and craftsman. Written by Kirk R. Brown, he performed the role in costume with elaborate scenic effects. Special music was coordinated with the Chancel Choir.
The Eye of God
Massive, two act, full length, original drama premiered during three evening performances at Asbury. Three years in the writing and producing, this is easily be the largest production Asbury will ever undertake. Spectacular scenic and lighting effects. Over 1000 costume pieces to dress the cast of over 50 Asbury and community volunteers. Original sound track was created by Phyllis Hentz and Kirk R. Brown on the carillon recording system at Schulmerich Carillons in Sellersville. It was the interconnected stories of the Archbishop of an un-named diocese and his master glazier. The building of a great and glorious "Gothic" cathedral illustrated all of the sins and qualities that men who work for God are heir to. Miracles of faith, the glory of light from stained glass, relics of the saints, fund raising for building campaigns…how contemporary can life get?
Ezekial Saw the What…? A Musical Vaudeville
One act, variety-based musical that took advantage of the incredible range of talent available to the creators at Asbury. Music by Gary Sloyer, Book and Lyrics by Kirk R. Brown. Tightly knit cast of 25 people "sung and danced" their way into your hearts in a contemporary retelling of the prophet Ezekial and the Israelites Babylonian captivity. Fun and games in the Hanging Gardens. It was the first original musical produced at Asbury that was accepted for publication and distribution internationally. Three different publishing houses wanted the publication rights.
The Fourth of July
Patriotic mélange of overlapping stories with deeply felt religious convictions. Kirk R. Brown wrote and led the founding fathers as John Adams. Bob Wright participated in full costume as Abraham Lincoln. George Washington and the Spirit of Liberty rounded out the hour for three services on the July week celebrating the Fourth. It included a variety of original and traditional special music. It marked Jonathan Beitler's first attempt at original music at Asbury. His "American Spirit" anthem was a solo for John Adams. It was a stand-out! The entire service was a Red, White, and Blue tribute that Bob had requested and drove to the finish.
Tenebrae, A Memory of Light
Special Chancel Choir presentation with a speaking cast of twelve. It was presented as an accompaniment to communion during an evening in Lent. Original music by Gary Sloyer with book and lyrics by Kirk R. Brown. It combined the story of 12 participants in the passion of Christ's last week on earth. One by one, as they leave him to his fate, their light is extinguished. The choir completes the piece with a hymn in total darkness. An international publishing house selected this powerful and moving piece for inclusion in their distributed catalogue. It was the second such piece to be selected that had its debut at Asbury.
Look To The Skies, A Musical Fable
Book and Lyrics by Kirk R. Brown. Music and Sound Track by Gary Sloyer. Third collaboration of the musical duo was their most ambitious to date. Eighteen original songs included music for twelve leads, a singing and dancing chorus of twenty and a back-up pit chorus of over thirty. The production was performed six times over two consecutive weekends. A New York scenic artist designed the sets with professional assistance on a large lighting program. It was the most difficult of all of the previous productions. Ultimately, it was the last time Asbury would ever undertake so large a production with so little help.
A Contemporary Act of Worship Celebrating a Man of Words: Book and Lyrics by Kirk R. Brown, Music by Gary Sloyer. A Worship length story with a traditional format that defined Tyndale, one of the early translators of the bible into vernacular English. The leads were augmented by a chorus of speakers who completed the play in voices from international languages.
In The Fullness of Time, An Oratorio for Christmas
Music by Jonathan Beitler, Lyrics by Kirk R. Brown. A serious musical effort based on the dual stories of Mary and Elizabeth.
A comedic skit that defined the topic of the sermon during the three Sunday morning "Praise" worship services. Kirk R. Brown wrote the skit.
Candles In The Night
The musical contribution to Hanging of the Greens in 1999. Written by Kirk R. Brown, special music was written by Jonathan Beitler, Phyllis Hentz, and Jenny Gast. This was a unique version of Christmas Eve on the Devonshire coast at the turn of the century. A large physical production, it included a high-impact, black light dance number choreographed by Karen Dearborn based on early Celtic myths and the coming of Christian King Arthur into the dark ages. Traditional Christmas carols encouraged the congregation to sing along and participate in the culminating candle lighting.
No Name In The Street
A contemporary re-writing of the first production that began the series sixteen years before. Caution was thrown to the wind as Asbury demonstrated how truly far it had come in the intervening years. The original cast returned in modern dress with new lines to relive the last week of Christ's life.
Prophet In The World
The last in the line.