Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Wonderland" at New Life Church


The last five minutes of “Wonderland,” the Christmas production at New Life Church, are alone worth the price of admission.

Nope, you don’t have to be a New Lifer to enjoy the show. You don’t even have to be religious, although, of course, the underlying message of the show certainly is about religion.

Wonderland has tap dancing, swing dancing, line dancing and ballroom dancing. There is also ice-skating, fog and 30-foot fountains. Then there’s that spectacular ending — a “Little Drummer Boy” segment that’s not at all what one would expect.

“I’m passionate about it being as good as anything else they can see in town,” said producer John Bolin.

No doubt about it, the 14,000-member church has large talent pool from which to draw. The script for the program was written in August, and rehearsals began in September, Bolin said.

About 700 people are involved in this year’s production: a 300-member cast, 300-person choir, 50-person crew and 52-piece orchestra. The only ones being paid are the musicians, some of whom are church members, Bolin said.

“Every year we try to spice it up. I think Christian entertainment sometimes get a bad rap. It kind of breaks people’s preconceived ideas of what to expect in a church.”

Bolin bills Wonderland as half fun for the family and half the story of the manger and Christmas.

“We want it to be a lot of fun, for people who aren’t really religious,” he said, but added: “We do it because we feel compelled to communicate the message of the Gospel to our city and give them hope at Christmastime.”

Bolin estimates between 20,000-25,000 people will see the show — not enough to cover production costs.

“We have yet in the history of the church broken even in a Christmas production,” he said.

Of course, anyone going to Wonderland would be naive to think it wouldn’t be somewhat churchy. And that drum segment? It doesn’t come until after a 10-minute-or-so sermon about hope from Pastor Ross Parsley. But you can walk away from Wonderland with whatever you want: the message New Life seeks to spread or the thought that hey, that was fun, the technical aspects were really good and there’s some very talented people in the city.

“Wonderland” is halfway through its run, with four more shows this week. For tickets:

And no, there was no mention of Pastor Ted Haggard. The show must go on.


Anonymous Jeremy said...

I subbed in the orchestra for this extravaganza. Definitely a Vegas-worthy show that happens to have a sermon at the end. I enjoyed when Pastor Ross sang 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' with leather chaps on to compliment the cowboy theme for that #.

10:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home