Young Man in a Hurry: A Story of the Prodigal Son is a new musical on the parable of the prodigal sun that’s being produced at Maple Avenue United Methodist Church in Terre Haute.
Composer and librettist Tom Johnson is a psychology professor at Indiana State University, but “music was always important in my family,” he says. “My dad was a member of the Al Cobine Band that was based in Bloomington. I have Henry Mancini’s autograph in my fifth grade band book. Later, at Indiana University, even while I was majoring in psychology I took three or four music courses. Dominic Spera from the Jazz Department actually encouraged me to switch to music, but I decided to stay with psychology.”
But Johnson didn’t give up on his musical interests. “I did continue to write and to play music. About three years ago I began to work on putting together this musical. The title tune for Young Man in a Hurry actually came from something I wrote in the 80s when perhaps I was having some of the same itches as the Prodigal Son.”
To dramatize the story, Johnson has created some additional characters. “There’s a sort of mysterious wisdom figure from the East that I call The Traveler, Arimat—a sort of villain—and Rebecca, a compassionate servant girl.”
Maple Avenue Methodist is a regular home to musicals. Previous shows in include Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Young Man in a Hurry dips into a wide pool of Terre Haute talent.
“Andrew Longyear, our Prodigal Son, played the lead in last year’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Jill Howard, who’s a minister at another Methodist Church, is the female lead, Rebecca. She’s the compassionate character. Our director is Josh Howard. He’s been very much involved with the Community Theatre of Terre Haute. Our music director, Dan Rodriguez, has done a number of previous shows.”
Young Man in a Hurry: A Story of the Prodigal Son, by Tom Johnson, is being presented in a dinner theater format Friday and Saturday, with a matinee on Sunday at Maple Avenue United Methodist Church in Terre Haute.