Musician and vocalist David Griffiths debuted his first musical, “Journey to Worship,” at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC on Saturday, December 5, 2015. For his first foray into the world of musicals, Griffiths certainly did an outstanding job. After a brief introduction by Griffiths, the story unfolded while Jahari Griffiths served as narrator.
The musical traces Griffith’s search for true worship as he goes on the mission field in Korea as a language teacher. Young David (Dante Pope) embarks on his quest after seeking wisdom from his pastor (David Griffiths) and his mother (Monique Griffiths). After starting out as a language instructor in Seoul, he very soon yearns to do more and travels into the nether regions of Korea.
Dante Pope was impressive as the young missionary seeking his purpose and Pope’s performance was so nuanced, it was easy to identify with his journey. Although Griffith’s introduced the musical, Pope appeared to easily morph into the younger Griffiths. Pope’s vocals were also great on songs like “I Believe.” One wonders how he’s managed to stay under the radar.
Opera singer Marlissa Hudson was exceptional on “I Have Plans for You” and the traditional “Deep River.” Hudson has a rich, almost ethereal voice. Monique Griffiths was a force to be reckoned with vocally, as she embodied each song, making them her own.
There are eleven songs performed in the musical that were written by Griffiths, perhaps a direct result of his musical awakening in Korea. It also speaks to the gravity of Griffiths’ talent.
Other cast members who brought the story to life were Oh Kyung Hee as the first Korean student, Helen Lee, Marcellus Crews as Pastor William and Gary Nelson who played a mean guitar as Uncle Gary on “Hand It Over” and “Oh Love.”
Patrick D. McCoy, who many may recognize as a journalist with Washington Life Magazine, was in his musical element (and surely his first love) as he masterfully directed the Journey to Worship Community Choir. The aggregation of singers came together to serve as a musical bridge for the spiritual odyssey that takes place. Edmund Charles skillfully served as musical director
As Christmas fast approaches,” Journey to Worship” is timely and in sync with the quest for something deeper. Although not the traditional yuletide fare, its message of a spiritual journey and the ultimate discovery of God in music makes it perfect for this season of faith and hope.
Produced by Griffiths and Gerald Young and directed by Nicole Morgan, “Journey to Worship” was a triumph in storytelling. Hopefully, Griffiths will share this musical again in the near future. It is a story that needs to be told time and again, because after all, life is a journey. Any story that proves you can indeed find your God-ordained purpose is certainly worthy of an encore.