In the year 2000 I got a crazy idea to write both the script and songs for a fully staged musical drama entitled YESHUA. It was a wild adventure that began with a small, one act Good Friday presentation at our church, then ballooned into a two and a half hour two act show, complete with sets, dancers, a full choir and lots of bells and whistles (including a 500 year old dried out tree). We presented YESHUA for 3 consecutive years at a local performing arts center.
My goal in writing this production was to do something different with what we commonly refer to as the Easter story, so I flavored the show with elements of the passion story’s historically Jewish roots through Hebrew dance, authentic Hebrew costumes, and a musical score laced with Jewish melodies.
Early on in the creation of YESHUA, Nathan and I decided that we wanted music to back the entire show, as if it were being presented on film. More than orchestral accompaniment for all the songs, we wanted scene music that would set the mood, the time and place; music that would enhance the emotional ebb and flow of the story. As I wrote the script I worked with Nathan on the timing of scenes so that the action would move smoothly from scene to scene, the pace driven by music. It was, at the time a novel concept, made possible because Nathan was able to create the entire score on his keyboard. During our work sessions I would read through the scenes aloud, and together we would decide what type of music the scene and dialogue required, how much music there should be, and when to leave blank spaces.
Nathan then created CDs that contained all the scene music and song accompaniment. We began rehearsing with the CD right from the start so the actors could learn their cues and work out the timing of their dialogue, scene changes, and the dramatic flow. This was especially effective in the trial scene where I required the actors to speak their dialogue in a rapid fire confrontational style.
Going into rehearsal, we were not at all sure how this would work, but the entire cast and crew were thrilled by the result! As the director of the play I was able to get more out of my actors because Nathan’s music is very emotive. There is gorgeous scene music when Yeshua (Jesus) prays in the garden and when he sings the modern aria I wrote for him. A suspenseful percussion-heavy score beats behind the trial scene, and the crucifixion scene allowed Nathan to compose the music of tears.
We are happy to share this clip from the crucifixion scene; with music by Nathan Allen Pinard and dialogue by Corey Bretsch and Brian Knapp with Vocals by Bonnie Pinard. This particular piece of music contains a lot of dark sound and vocal design with a celtic feel at the end, because well-Nathan likes to work outside the box!