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'The Word' relates life of Jesus in music
An Ivyland man has composed a gospel opera with church members as actors. The show goes on the road to New Jersey tommorrow.

By Milt Krugman

     People who have seen "The Word" say its another "Jesus Christ Superstar" or "Godspell."
     Those two gospel-based rock opera are the kind of company that Ivyland composer 29-year-old Bill Monaghan like to be in.
     He composed "The Word," which is described as a gospel opera with a cast of more than 25 young people.  There are 20 original songs, which range from rock to gospel to reggae to a 1950's do-wop beat.  Carl Lichtner of Richboro directs the musical.
"It's basically a show filled with energy and emotions," said Monaghan, who noted the musical is scheduled to open tommorrow in Ocean City, NJ.
     "I started out with the idea in 1994 of doing something on the line of 'Jesus Christ Superstar," said Monaghan, director of music resources at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Upper Southampton.
     His actors - all volunteers - are church members.  His musical is staged mostly in his church and others.  Tommorrow is the first time the troupe has taken the show on the road, he said.
     Monaghan, who plays piano and guitar, said he's been involved in musical endeavors since 1990.  "I've written a ballet, a musical play, some songs and I've co-written a children's musical,"  he said.
Carl Lichtner, center, plays John the Baptist in "The Word," 
a rock-gospel musical telling the story of Jesus.
      The composer said he's had positive public response to the musical, which tells the story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
     "The last half hour, the Last Supper segment, really gets to the audience," he said.
     Holland resident Paul Favorite, who attends St. Bede's Church in Holland, is  a big fan of the musical.
     "My daughter, Christine, is in the play, and I've seen it 26 times," he said.  "I think it's fantastic.  What I like the most is the young kids and the young adults who show that there are some good kids doing some good things."
     Favorite says the music is great.  "I'll be driving home from work sometimes and I'll just start singing one of the songs,"  he said.  "The production is well-done and the music is uplifting.  Monaghan is brilliant."

On the road

"The Word" is scheduled to be shown at several Delaware Valley venues:

  • Tommorrow at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Youth Conference on the Music Pier at Ocean City
  • March 3-4, St. Theresa of Avila Church, Summit, N.J.
  • March 31-April 1, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Upper Southampton
  • April 14-15, St. Andrew's Church, Newtown Township
  • May 5-6, Phoenixville Knights of Columbus, Phoenixville

This Article appeared in The Bucks County Courier Times on Friday, 25 February 2000 on pages C1 and C2

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