GLEN ROSE – The excitement in the air and anticipation for the 28th season of The Promise is almost palpable.
Original creative and stage director Michael Meece is returning to guide this inspirational musical production, which vividly illustrates the life of Jesus Christ on stage at the Texas Amphitheater in Glen Rose.
The 2016 season of the elaborate and highly popular show begins Friday, Sept. 2, and continues each Friday and Saturday evening through Oct. 29.
“I’m thrilled to be back where it all began," Meece told the Glen Rose Reporter during a recent interview. "I am reminded of the impact this production has had on every person who has seen it."
This year, Fort Worth resident Bill Brooks is the new general manager for The Promise. Brooks played the part of Peter in the original Glen Rose production.
The Promise has had several directors and general managers over the years, Brooks said.
This year, the board of directors for The Promise – a 501C3 nonprofit – reached out to Meece and asked him to return.
“Everybody is very excited,” Brooks said. “There will be some changes in the show, but nothing major."
The show – shown in two acts just over two hours – utilizes a 15,000-watt sound system to highlight the musical performances.
Brooks said the most important aspect of the production this year is Michael Meece returning as director.
"He put together the original show," Brooks said. "He was definitely the creative mind behind the show. It is pretty exciting he’s returning 28 years later.”
Meece directed The Promise for the first seven years in Glen Rose.
Then, in partnership with Bill and Randy Brooks, he adapted the outdoor version of The Promise for the indoors in Branson, Missouri. That production had a successful 7-year run.
Meece, who resides in Dallas, has also directed The Promise in more than a dozen other countries. For 20 years, he has directed the acclaimed Christmas musicals presented by Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas.
Brooks said there are approximately 95 cast members this year. As many as a half dozen cast members have appeared in all 28 seasons. Many others have performed in it “a long time" Brooks said.
One obvious change this year will be the absence of the three characters who previously served as “storytellers” – a grandfather and two grandchildren.
“The show itself will remain intact,” Brooks explained. “The story will now be told by (one) storyteller instead of the grandfather and the grandchildren.”
Brooks himself will serve as this new storyteller.
“It’s notable that Adam Richards returns as Jesus," he said.
Richards is the worship pastor at Stonewater Church in Granbury, Brooks said.
Richards has played the part of Jesus for about eight years, he said.
Brooks noted that virtually everyone in the cast resides in the Metroplex area. Performers who should be considered professional singers, Brooks said, portray most of the principal characters.
The lively show includes vivid costumes, live animals and elaborate special effects such as mood lighting and fog machines, officials said.
The theater includes a 45,000-gallon “moat” in front of the stage that, at various times, is included in various water-based scenes.
For this first weekend, Sept. 2-3, those attending who demonstrate proof they are Somervell County residents will be admitted free of charge, officials said.
(Proof in the form of either a valid driver’s license or a local utility bill will be required.)
However, there will still be a $10 parking fee per vehicle.
Operations Manager Christin Gibson said that those attending this weekend are encouraged, but not required, to bring a donation of canned or other nonperishable food. Those will go to the Somervell County food bank known as Papa’s Pantry.
The 4,000-square-foot, three-level amphitheater, which has 3,250 fixed seats and an overall capacity of 5,000, is at 5000 Texas Drive.
Gates open at 6:30 p.m. There will be a pre-show concert at 7:15 p.m.
The Promise begins at 8 p.m.
Ticket prices are $30 for general admission. It is $40 for upper reserved seats and $45 for lower reserved.
The box office phone number is 254-897-3926.