NarroWay marks its 23rd season of world-class, Christian entertainment with the premier of Anno Domini: the Story of Stephen. Coming in June 2020, this Martin & Clark original Broadway-style musical tells the story of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and the spreading of the Christian faith through the Apostles. The show opens at the NarroWay Theatre on June 6 and runs through August 8.
Located just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina in the town of Fort Mill, South Carolina, the NarroWay Theatre is home to NarroWay Productions, “the Broadway of Christian Entertainment.” NarroWay features original, Broadway-style dinner shows every weekend, with 5 or more different large-scale musicals playing each year. The theatre is one of the top-rated dinner theatres in South Carolina based on TripAdvisor reviews.
Anno Domini set for New Premiere
First written in 2000 by K. Rebecca Martin and Yvonne H. Clark, Anno Domini was originally featured outdoors when NarroWay performed at King’s Arena amphitheatre. The show has never returned to the stage since NarroWay moved inside in 2006. Now, 20 years after its original writing, Anno Domini is set for a new premiere on a new stage at the NarroWay Theatre.
And a new stage, it will be. The epic production calls for an epic set transformation. NarroWay is working with scenic designer Boyce McKinney to accomplish this massive undertaking. McKinney has a long list of credits to his work, including such things as “E.T.’s Adventure Ride” in Universal Studios (both Orlando and Hollywood locations), along with major works in Italy and Hong Kong as well as other creations across the US. His work at NarroWay will involve the design and build of a massive, multi-tiered, biblical-themed set depicting the Holy Land in first-century A.D. And while preparatory work began several months in advance, NarroWay’s performance schedule allows less than 10 days for McKinney and NarroWay’s set crew to make the actual transformation.
“Bringing a new show to life is no small undertaking,” notes director Rebecca Martin. “While script and music are in place for Anno Domini, there is still much work to bring the show to the stage.”
Martin and Clark are a Prolific Duo
Martin knows well the birth pains of bringing a new show to life. Seldom is a writer also in a position to be the director and producer of a live theatre show. But NarroWay is a rarity. Martin and best friend Yvonne Clark founded the non-profit in 1996. But the two have worked together for 43 years. In that time, they have written, produced and directed more than 35 original shows.
“We have the rare privilege of seeing the show through every phase – from the first idea to words and music on paper, the many re-writes and edits, the orchestrations and underscores, casting, rehearsals, polishing and finally seeing it all come to life,” says Clark.
Clark is responsible for the musical side of the creative duo, while Martin is the scriptwriter. Both contribute to song lyrics. Arguably, Anno Domini includes some of their finest musical works. The theme song, Lift the Standard High, traverses time from the ancient armies of Israel to Christ’s crucifixion at Golgotha, to a stirring call for today: “Lift the standard high for the world to see. Desperate soldiers everywhere come unto me. The battle often fierce, but soldiers heed the call! No matter what the cost, the standard must not fall!” Just underneath the song title is a note honoring the life of Martin’s father, James Peery Martin, a World War II hero who passed away in 1999, never hearing the song written in his honor.
Show Features Incredibly Poignant Music
The music in Anno Domini is poignantly written for the show but transcends the boundaries of the stage to stand on its own. Universal themes of praise, worship, encouragement and purpose inspire believers from every generation. Other moving selections include What Now, Where Were You at Golgotha, Didn’t I Tell You, Wake Up, There Are People, Shout the Lord’s Praises and the title song, Anno Domini.
The show also includes an original arrangement of the traditional hymn All Hail the Power of Jesus Name (Edward Perronet, 1780). Beaten and bloodied Apostles, released by the temple leaders and cast out into the streets of Jerusalem one by one start proclaiming, “Jesus is Lord.” As their chant intensifies, it evolves into a powerful arrangement of the sacred hymn with the entire cast of more than 70 actors lending their voice to the proclamation.
The storyline of Anno Domini is a creative rendering of the historical time period recorded in the first few chapters of the book of Acts in the Bible. Anno Domini is a Latin phrase that translates “in the year of the Lord.” It is where we obtain the abbreviation A.D., as in 2020 A.D.
The show follows the early life of Christianity as Christ’s fearful followers come to terms with the reality of His death. Very quickly, however, these cowards become champions as the faith that revolutionized the world is born.
History and creativity merge with the telling of the story of Stephen, the first recorded martyr of the Christian faith. Stephen was a Hellenistic Jew (a foreign-born Jew who spoke Greek). He is noted as one of seven men the Apostles appointed to care for elderly widows in the early church. Little is known about Stephen’s family. Thus, in writing Anno Domini, Martin’s creativity comes into play. She provides him a wife and child, along with a job (owner of a standard shop).
Show Includes a Scrumptious Themed Dinner
As with all shows at the NarroWay Theatre, a performance of Anno Domini also features a delicious, show-themed dinner. Playing upon the Hellenistic descent of Stephen, the bill of fare has a distinct Greek flair. The menu includes a tender, fire-braised chicken breast with balsamic glaze, parmesan-crusted potato wedges, Israeli salad, traditional Greek flatbread, Tzatziki sauce and Greek Baklava for dessert. Vegetarian and gluten-sensitive options are also offered.
Anno Domini premieres May 2 and runs through August 8 at the NarroWay Theatre. Performance times include Fridays at 6:30pm; Saturdays at 12pm; and Saturdays at 5pm. The show also returns to the lineup for January and February 2021.
Located just 10 minutes from the Billy Graham Library, NarroWay is the only continuous running dinner theatre in the greater Charlotte area. Groups often package the two experiences when traveling through the area.
For more information on Anno Domini and all that NarroWay offers, visit narroway.net. Tickets and information are available on the NarroWay website at narroway.net or by calling 803-802-2300. Group rates are offered for groups of 15 or more and additional discounts are applied for seniors and students.