Even with a rocky start “Cotton Patch Gospel”, the newest TJC musical, moves forward to opening day.

The greatest story ever retold, “Cotton Patch Gospel” is about the Gospel according to Matthew and John with a little bit of a spin. Though the story of Christ is exactly the same, the setting is very different. In this version, Jesus lived his life in southern Atlanta, GA instead of Jerusalem and is completely modernized.

Dr. David Crawford, the director of the musical, gave the students a homework assignment. They had to read Matthew and John from the Bible to get prepared for this musical. Many replied back to him saying, “It’s just like the musical” while Crawford points out that it, in fact, is the musical.

“Cotton Patch Gospel” stays true to the Gospel while changing the setting and by doing so through Jesus’ activities that are now modernized. For instance, instead of Jesus walking everywhere he now has to take the bus.

“The truth remains the same no matter what, whether you have “Godspell,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” or “Cotton Patch Gospel,'” Crawford said. “The story is the same, how you present the story is different.”

Thirteen students will be performing “Cotton Patch Gospel.”

While almost all have more than two or three parts, the leads of the musical are Ryan Forester of Hallsville, who plays Jesus, and Clay McBride of Longview, who will portray Matthew.

“I was excited when I heard we were doing ‘Cotton Patch Gospel’ and got even more excited when I found out I received the part of Jesus,” Forester said.

This is going to be Foresters’ second show at TJC. He was also in the production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Nathan Russell, the choir director describes the music for the show as Western meets Bluegrass meets Country.

“I love the music,” Forester said. “It’s a good mixture of both slow and upbeat songs. This generation is going to enjoy it.”

There are going to be 19 songs total in “Cotton Patch Gospel,” all of which will be played by five men with only five instruments which include the banjo, guitar, fiddle, bass and the mandolin.

“This show is appropriate for everybody, from children to the elderly,” Crawford said. “It is good spirited and positive. At this time in our financial problems in society it’s the type of thing we need, and leaves us with a good feeling, while at the same time being informative.”

“Cotton Patch Gospel” is set to open Wednesday Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Wise Auditorium.

The show will be around two hours long and will also be playing Thursday and Friday at the same time. Tickets are $5 each, and can be bought in advance or at the door.

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