Despite the challenges presented in the current times, the Promise in Glen Rose will indeed be in production this season — starting with the premiere night for its 32nd season on Saturday, Aug. 29.
This marks the fourth year for Chuck King as the director of the The Promise, which is presented live at the Texas Amphitheatre located at 5000 Texas Drive in Glen Rose. Following the Aug. 29 opening night, performances are set for Saturdays, Sept. 5, 12, 19, and 26, as well as Fridays and Saturdays Oct. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24 and 30-31.
The gates will open at 6:30 p.m. prior to each show, and the performance will start at 8 p.m.
Ticket information, including group rates and discounts, can be found online (thepromiseglenrose.com/about). The phone number to reach the box office is 254-897-3926. King said that the majority of tickets are sold in advance, but can also be purchased at the gate.
The unique, high-quality musical production tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ in what is described on the website as "modern family-friendly fashion."
The website notes that The Promise’s board of directors made the decision to continue the tradition this year, taking care to use "extensive measures" to "help keep the cast and patrons as safe as possible from COVID-19 exposure."
With its seating capacity of approximately 3,200 people, the Texas Amphitheatre is the largest permanent outdoor amphitheater in Texas. It features 40-foot high walls and arches rising above the 4,000-square foot tri-level stage. And it’s the only outdoor venue with a 45,000-gallon moat and rain curtain.
"The Texas Amphitheatre is one of the few venues in our area and across the nation that is determined to remain open in the midst of the pandemic," King stated. "We are at a tremendous advantage with the size of our venue — with 3,200 comfortable seats, we can adequately accommodate mandated social distancing. We have also put additional policies in place to comply with local mandates to keep your visit to The Promise as safe as possible, while still allowing for you and your family to experience our spectacular presentation."
King added, "Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. The Promise is a true Texas tradition that should be preserved for generations to come. If there was ever a year that it was important to attend The Promise, this is it! Our reviews on travel websites continue to hit 4 and 5 stars … It’s an experience for the whole family that is worth the drive to our beautiful little town."
King advised that patrons should visit the website (www.thepromiseglenrose.com) to read and agree to the safety policies that are in place. Facial coverings will be required for entry, and seating with adhere to appropriate social distancing guidelines. Temperature checks will be made at the gate, so King recommends arriving a little early to allow time for that.
"We’re just excited because we’re one of the few performing arts centers in the nation opening up," King said. "We have really felt like, in spite of the challenges — and there are many of them — people are looking for something safe to do. In spite of the odds, we want to keep the Texas Amphitheatre and The Promise going.
"I’m really proud of the people here — the cast members and crew members. They sacrifice a full three months of their weekends. It’s an extremely important tradition, and a major tourist attraction. We just are committed to not allow it to die."
The Promise in Glen Rose began in 1989. The new script and original music were done by King, who was originally from Oklahoma City. Mamie Deel is the musical director, Michael Wilcox is the production manager, and Jeff and Natalie Lewis of Arrows International are the choreographers.
King, who has earned two Regional Emmy awards and one other nomination for short films aired on the Arkansas Educational Television Network, studied music and theater at Oklahoma Baptist University.
He had a 13-year stint overseeing the music and artistic direction of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s Feast of Tabernacles Celebration — Israel’s largest annual tourism event.
While in Israel, King was worship leader for King of Kings Assembly in Jerusalem, where he became a well-known personality in Israel’s English-speaking theater world.
Original music created by King can be heard on five solo collections. His music has been featured on several worship albums produced in Israel, Europe, Brazil and China, as well as the United States. His new single, "Jerusalem Dream Song, is scheduled for release this fall.
King has appeared in several faith-based stage and film productions as part of Legacy Media, which is based in Colorado. He also serves as an editor and ghost writer for Legacy.
King said that this year there are about 80 cast members, compared to the usual 90 to 95.
"Because of the pandemic, we had to adjust the cast list," King said, adding that they have "kept all the pageantry."
The production still features a crowd-pleasing assortment of live animals including horses, goats, sheep — and a camel.
One of the most notable cast changes will be Joshua Lee in the role of Jesus. He performed in The Promise last year, in a different role. Lee, originally from Eugene, Oregon, now resides in Waco. He recently performed in "The Sound of Music" and in Baylor Opera Theatre’s Signor Deluso and Candide in Los Angeles.
Other prominent local favorites in the cast include Freddie Martinez Jr. as Caiaphas, Abby Watson as Tirzah and veteran Billy Myers returning as Peter. A cast newcomer, Weatherford College Theatre Department student Laken Gage of Mineral Wells, is assuming the role of Satan.
NEW THIS YEAR
King, a composer and recording artist, noted that he has added a couple of new songs for this year’s production, and some past material will be re-introduced.
"I always feel like we want to maintain the tradition of The Promise, but at the same time we need to keep the production fresh," King said.
This year the story of Jesus will be told from the perspective of a shepherd — King himself.
Special dates scheduled this season include the following pre-show presentations: Heroes Night (honoring veterans, active-duty, first-responders, law enforcement and medical personnel) on Sept. 12; Youth Night Sept. 26; Alumni Night Oct. 2; Cowboy Roundup Night (with country singer Susie McEntire) Oct. 9; and Family Night Oct. 31. Visit The Promise’s website online for more details on those promotions.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Owen McKnight, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Glen Rose, said of The Promise, "Director Chuck King and The Promise team have breathed new life into a long standing and important Glen Rose tradition. Young, old, vacationers, locals, large groups and small will be truly blessed as they embark on a journey through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus."
"The Promise has always shared the Gospel story in every presentation with excellence and grace," said Mark Forrest, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church of Granbury. "Their staff strives to help the audience experience the life of Jesus in an intensely personal way."
Troy Brewer, senior pastor of OpenDoor Church of Burleson, said, "The Promise has been faithful for over three decades to provide family entertainment and the compelling gospel of Jesus with excellence. Any denomination would be happy to claim this faithful outreach exclusively as their own. Thank God for the vision and enduring hard work of such a creative team."