Last night, A.D. Players concluded previews for their newest production “The Apostle”. The production officially opens tonight and tells an age old message in modern terms.
Chip Simmons actor, playwright and director explains in the playbill when he was asked to do a dramatic reading of a chapter from Romans and how it developed into a series of questions, “What if the Apostle Paul were alive today? What would he say? Whom would he offend?” These few questions create the basis around the entire production. Simmons, Kevin Dean, Jennifer Dean and Mark A. Lewis all form the creative team which adapted this play from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” Bible. Peterson created and translated the Bible publishing “The Message” in segments from 1993 until 2002. His translation is an idiomatic translation in which he uses contemporary US slang.
Although a minimalist set, the scenic artists Mark A. Lewis and Paul Larsen create a breathtaking backdrop. The creative team also keep the idea of modernization in the forefront with this production intermixing multimedia as well. This use of prerecorded images and scenes adds to the present-day feel of the production. Each production element from set and costume design to lighting and technical all added to the overall production impact.
The play waste no time getting into the heart of the message. Opening with Paul (Simmons), the apostle, already imprisoned and given the ability to address the gathering crowd for 90 minutes. The apostle takes his “stage” and proceeds to preach the message of truth and hope engaging all who listen. The remainder of the play continues with mostly a single actor addressing the audience. Giving the modern perspective, any large gathering such as this by an apostle, a reporter (William Burke) and cameraman (Jackson Potts) attempt to cover the developing story, which breaks up the overall sermon feel of the production.
Simmons has a steady and commanding ease on the stage. Audiences can easily watch him dissolve into the apostle as he preaches the message to the audience and at times you lose yourself in the word so much you forget it is a play. Despite being mostly a one-man production the use of the additional actors Jackson Potts, Burke and Jack Potts, who portrays a guard, these actors simply add to the intrigue and production value. These actors give life to Simmons during key times where audiences can watch as he performs a baptism and personally engages with them to give the production a more personal feel.
This production offers many points to ponder and with the three big questions it puts before you right from the opening, audiences will find themselves immersed in the plays message. This production succeeds with its message rather than being an overall general audience pleaser. Paul was an in your face, tell it as it was apostle, which is perfectly portrayed with this production. Simmons and the creative team put a play together that creates a provoking production which will leave audiences thinking long after leaving the theater.
“The Apostle” officially opens tonight with the A.D. Players and is a perfect way to kick off your Easter weekend. For ticket information, visit their site at www.adplayers.org, call 713-526-2721 or you can purchase at the door. Check out the other events going on at the theater and see what shows are up ahead for both the Main stage and Children’s theater for the remainder of their 2016 season.