There was a second when I almost didn’t get into the Contemporary Youth Arts Company’s current production of “Mary,” the troupe’s annual rock opera, written by playwright Dan Kehde and composer/lyricist Mark Scarpelli.
It took a second to locate the necessary paperwork — a vaccine card.
This was only the second time I’d ever been asked to show proof I’d been vaccinated.
Kehde takes COVID precautions seriously. Ticketholders have to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test and wear a mask in the building. The director, who also appeared in the musical, seated everyone who came in, putting distance between strangers.
“We try our best,” he said.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written about “Mary” over the past 17 years, but in all those years, I’ve never watched a performance.
My attending the show was long overdue, and besides, I had a couple of friends involved — Ted Rose and Steve Waggoner from the Kanawha Kordsmen. Ted was playing the archangel Gabriel, while Steve was the vocal conductor.
Also, my ukulele instructor, Andrew Winter, played guitar — and asked me how my ukulele practice was going. Short answer: not too good.
“Mary” fills in some of the hazy history leading up to the births of Jesus and John the Baptist. It focuses on the teenage Mary and her soon-to-be husband, Joseph, along with the elderly Elizabeth and her husband Zachariah, all of whom are trying to wrap their heads around unexpected pregnancies and the effects of divine will.
Despite a choir of angels and a full-blown archangel, CYAC’s “Mary” is more about the human than the divine.
Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah all have to confront disbelief, distrust and disappointment as they come around to acceptance of the miracle that’s been given them.
“Mary” also revisits the character of Herod, who is said to have hunted for the messiah and ordered the massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem.
In Sunday school, Herod was a straight up villain, but Kehde’s take gives him some nuance. Even if there isn’t much sympathy for the tyrant, there’s context for some of his actions.
“Mary” runs right at two hours with a short intermission between the first and second act. The show closes this weekend after three performances at the Elk City Playhouse in Charleston.
If you go, maybe stop in at Books and Brews a couple of doors down from the theater. The beer selection is pretty good and the pepperoni roll is one of the best around.
They also have one of the coolest Christmas trees I’ve seen so far, made out of a stack of books.