By Melody Watts

A statement of “We need a stage manager” was followed by a request for me to step into this role for the past WordPlayers’ Advent show, West of Bethlehem. Apprehension lurked in my mind. Some of my past experiences as a stage manager were met with much hostility from actors in denial that they could possibly make a mistake.  Agreeing to the offer, I was guarded but hopeful of this opportunity. This would be my first time being a stage manager for The WordPlayers.

The night of the table reading I met with director and playwright, Ethan Norman. It was made clear that, as director, he would have my back, and I would be free to carry out the duties of a stage manager. Expectation replaced any apprehension that lingered. Tears of compassion and joy filled my eyes by the time the first read through was completed. The story presented would awaken those who slumber in the church and encourage those who are downtrodden. I saw beautiful golden moments in rehearsal which echoed the heart of the Good Shepherd calling for all sheep to become a part of His flock. If I had to summarize a lesson from this show it would be: where are you going to put your hope? Will it be placed in the kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Though the last showing of West of Bethlehem has passed, I catch myself still singing the songs presented in this play. Often times, it’s O Come Emmanuel to the tune of the Rio Bravo theme followed by the line “come unto me” from Everything You Need to Know about Shepherding in Four Minutes or Less. These two songs might be the wake-up call of: There isn’t a need to cry out for God to be with us, for the Good News is He is with us and like a good shepherd He will not forsake us. One can expect when working with The WordPlayers that he/she will feel not only respected but welcomed. In the same way, this play reflected Jesus’ calling that all are welcome to the flock.

If you were able to see West of Bethlehem, consider yourself blessed. If not, hopefully you will be able to make it to another great play written by Ethan Norman in the upcoming Lenten season.

– Melody Watts