For almost 30 years, The Promise in Glen Rose has delivered a powerful, entertaining message to visitors — and new director Chuck King is eager to maintain that tradition.

King, a composer, actor, producer and director, is minister of Worship Arts at Heritage UMC in Van Buren, Arkansas who was selected to direct The Promise for its 29th season, which opens with the Friday, Sept. 1 show.

The Promise the presents the biblical story of the life of Jesus Christ in the form of a lively, emotional musical featuring 120 cast members. It is held each year at the Texas Amphitheatre, which features 3,200 fixed seats and has a maximum capacity of 5,000.

King is excited that the new season is almost here, and is said he is honored to take over as the new director.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this,” he said. “I’m enjoying it so much. I’m falling in love with the production and the people that have been so committed to it for so many years. I’m having a blast.”

King expressed excitement for new elements for this year’s performance, as the nonprofit organization behind it prepares for next year’s big 30th anniversary production.

“We’re adding some new music — new songs that have been written for this year, specifically for the show,” King said, noting that the Oct. 14 show will be recorded by a film crew from Branson, Missouri for use in future promotions.

One element from the past that attendees likely will remember is being brought back this year. After a one-year absence from the script, the modern-day characters of Grandpa and his grandchildren, Billy and Lisa, have been written back into the show as a guide to the story as it unfolds.

“I think that people were sentimental and attached to the idea,” King said of the return of the three familiar characters. “It’s an idea to tie in the show with the tradition of Somervell County.”

Despite the new wrinkles, the all-important basics remain the same.

“The production itself is very true to the Gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus,” King noted. “There are many familiar scenes, beginning with the Nativity scene, and miracles.”

The conclusion, of course, highlights the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

THE CAST

King said that the final auditions for The Promise were held in early June.

“The majority of the cast are returning, but we do have a lot of new members,” King said. “I’m really pleased with the level of talent we have coming in from the area.”

King said that many cast members will be driving in from locations at least an hour away from Glen Rose. One new member named Teresa Wow Black, playing Mary Magdalene, will be making a four-hour drive each week from her home near Houston.

The cast once again includes the dynamic acting and singing of Adam Richards in the role of Jesus as an adult. Richards is a worship leader for Stonewater Church in Granbury.

“He’s been doing that for years,” King said of Richards. “He’s got an outstanding voice and a real sensitivity when it comes to the part.”

King said that the cast includes about 30 children, including someone King described as an “exceptional” performer who will be playing the role of Jesus at age 12 for the first time.

There are also more fan favorites returning — live animals to enhance the visual experience. They include a camel, donkeys, chickens, doves and a herd of sheep, provided by a ranch located just outside of Glen Rose.

SPECIAL VENUE

Performances of The Promise will be each Friday and Saturday night through Nov. 4 at the $8.5 million facility, located at 5000 Texas Drive in Glen Rose.

The Texas Amphitheatre, which opened in 1989, is the state’s largest permanent outdoor amphitheater. It has a 4,000 square foot tri-level stage, and is the only outdoor theater in the country with a rain curtain. It’s also available for outside rentals.

Adding to the experience are special effects and magnificent sound delivered through a 15,000-watt sound system. The lighting system has more than 850 individual instruments and two dozen special effect lights.

Then there’s one of the facility’s unique features — a 45,000-gallon moat, which is used in several scenes during the show.

The gates open at 6:30 p.m., followed by a pre-show Christian concert at 7:15. The two-hour show starts at 8 p.m., so don’t be late. The performance includes an intermission.

TICKETS

Call 254-897-3926 to purchase tickets. Prices are $30 for General Admission, $40 for Upper Reserved and $45 for Lower Reserved. There are discounts of $5 per ticket for children, seniors and military/veterans.

There is a $10 parking fee at the gate for the Texas Amphitheatre. Buses with 15 or more people park free.

The opening weekend offers free admission for Somervell County residents with a picture ID plus a donation of canned goods to benefit PaPa’s Pantry, the local food bank. It also will be half price for admission to non-Somervell County residents.

King advised, “Even though it’s free (opening weekend, with donations), call in advance and get your seat saved.”

Also, you can go online (http://www.thepromiseglenrose.com/) to enter drawings for a free Family Pack of tickets.