It’s the greatest story in the world, told with arguably the greatest music in the world.
Beginning Dec. 12, the Epic Theatre Company will present its sixth annual “Let It Be Christmas: The Gospel According to Matthew, Luke, John, Paul, George and Ringo” at Community Christian Church in Naperville. ETC’s original rock opera tells the nativity story in a one-act play set to Beatles music.
“I’m a longtime fan of The Beatles; it’s the most timeless music,” said Elic Bramlett, associate creative director at Community Christian Church and artistic director at ETC. “It’s withstood the test of time. There’s a parallel between God’s story being timeless and Beatles music being timeless.”
Bramlett says he got the idea for the production when attending church in Indiana. The church coordinated a series with the same name, featuring a different Beatles song each week in services leading up to Christmas.
“We saw a video of the series, and when they did the song ‘Beautiful Boy,’ I thought ‘this needs to be a full-length musical,’” Bramlett said. “I asked their music director if we could use the idea, and they said ‘sure.’”
“It’s become a perennial tradition now,” he said. “One of the joys of creating and writing our own show is that we can change it every year, which we do. We add and take away and reshape.”
Bramlett said there are longtime fans who love seeing the changes from year to year, and new attendees who “are blown away by our ability to tell the story using Beatles music.”
One of the things that changes each year is the set design.
“This year the story is taking place outside of Abbey Road,” Bramlett said.
“The band on stage is in a recording studio, and the narrator of the show, who is reading from scripture, is called the engineer. He’s the sound engineer, mixing music and telling the story.”
“‘Let It Be Christmas’ has rave reviews year after year,” said Pastor Shawn Williams, of Community Christian Church. “It is a high-quality production with a large cast that creates a compelling, all-ages experience.”
The show features a live band, orchestra and gospel choir. More than 100 adults and children are involved in the production.
“Let It Be Christmas” is a starting point for sparking interest, Bramlett said.
“As a creative director and pastor, I recognize that there are people who may not want to step into a church,” said Bramlett.
“They hear that there’s a Beatles musical, and they’re so intrigued that they come and check it out. It gets them into church and gives them the spirit of Christmas.”
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