When Joseph Hale picked up the phone he heard, âDon’t be offended, Joe. I don’t think you’re a bad guy, but I would like you to play that part.
The role in question? Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, who betrayed his friend for 30 pieces of silver, which led to Jesus’ arrest and his ultimate crucifixion.
The man on the other end of the line? Conductor and composer Rob Gardner, best known for his oratorio âThe Lamb of God,â a musical performance of the last week of Jesus’ life, beginning with the resurrection of Lazarus, through to the arrest and death. crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection. The story is told through those around Jesus, including Peter, John, Thomas, Mary Magdalene and his mother, Mary.
âLamb of Godâ was first recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra in London in 2010 and has been performed around the world. The Mormon Choir performed Gardner’s work at Pikes Peak Center in 2019.
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And now the oratorio has hit the big screen as a concert film. The 90-minute film will be screened several times Sunday through Thursday at Cinemark Carefree Circle and IMAX.
Hale, an accomplished singer and recording artist who also happens to be a dentist and father of three in Colorado Springs, did several projects with Gardner and knew the songwriter was eager to create a film version of his famous oratorio. The pandemic ultimately prompted Gardner to commit to the project, Hale says. Without live performances, he wanted to introduce the music to a wider audience.
âIt’s not a typical movie with costumes and scenery,â says Hale, who flew to Park City, Utah, in early February for a COVID-19 safe shoot. âIt’s concert style, where you see a full orchestra, choirs and soloists. It’s like seeing a live concert, but you have elements like a cameraman coming in and out of the orchestra.
Hale, who played on cruise ships for years with his wife before moving to Springs in 2009, is the only Colorado name in the cast. Because Broadway is dark due to the pandemic, Gardner was able to get many artists with credits on Broadway, including Oyoyo Bonner as Mary of Bethany. Bonner starred in Tony Award winning âThe Book of Mormon,â and once the musical theater world gets the green light to open up, she will perform in the original cast of âMJ: The Musicalâ , on Michael Jackson.
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Casey Elliott, who has appeared in numerous musicals including “Aida” and “Les Miserables,” and is also part of Gentri, a cinematic male pop vocal trio influenced by Salt Lake City musical theater, will play Peter in “Lamb of God.”
Being able to star in the film is important to Hale, a Christian who records inspiring music. It was especially interesting to explore the role of Judas, which he had always imagined as an evil caricature – a guy hiding in the shadows, ready to pounce on Jesus, he said.
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âI realized that Judas is a real person and Jesus chose him as one of his disciples,â Hale says. âHe is not going to choose a horrible person as a disciple, even though Judas ultimately betrayed Jesus. He (Judas) made a mistake. He’s a character I can relate to, not that I would make exactly that mistake, but he’s a character we can all relate to because none of us are perfect.
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