Dalton Bequette, 12, playing a Christian rock star, left, reacts as he notices Michael Proctor, 10, playing a businessman, laying on the ground after being beaten up by a gang in the play “The Secret of my Success, Building on the Rock” on Tuesday.
By Darrell Todd Maurina
As a well-dressed young woman walked on stage at First Church of the Nazarene, she sang about her convictions.
“My wisdom is from Wall Street, where we always get the leads!” she sang to the audience while pivoting on her high-heeled shoes.
“I want to know about the dough, what’s in this deal for me?” she sang. “It’s not real smart to use your heart, be cold, be rough and cruel!”
That’s not the type of music people at the church usually hear, and when interviewed following practice on Tuesday, the singer hastened to say it’s not what she believes.
“I think a lot of people try to be happy with money, but if you know Jesus you can be happy whether you have a lot of money or just a little,” said Megan Howard, 11, one of two actresses playing Miss Morebucks in this weekend’s two performances of the church’s Children’s Musical Theater program.
Howard and about 25 other young people from Clovis ranging in age from first to sixth grade will perform Saturday and Sunday in the church’s presentation of Celeste Clydesdale’s musical, “The Secret of My Success: Building Futures on the Rock.” The young actors are drawn from a variety of churches around Clovis and church leaders said they try to provide performance opportunities for young people in small churches that might not be able to put on a church play.
According to promotional material, the musical presentation portrays Miss Morebucks as “a pushy young business grad” who tries to impress a company founded on Christian principles with her “Wall Street wisdom.” Through the play, the values of company president Bing Solomon, a Christian, are contrasted with the money-centered values of Miss Morebucks.
Howard said she loves acting and was glad to have the chance to act in a Christian play.
“I like that you can give people a message through what you are doing,” Howard said. “It’s fun. It also has a purpose.”
Linda Teakell, children’s pastor at the church, said having young people learn messages like that is why the church has been putting on the children’s musicals for the last seven years.
“It’s not just to entertain people; as we learn the musical, we stop to teach the concepts,” Teakell said. “Giving the children an opportunity to be on stage and perform gives a huge feeling of satisfaction. Invariably a kid will come up and say, ‘Let’s do this four more times.’”
Teakell said the catchy songs of the musical stay in children’s minds for years and imprint valuable lessons on young minds. She wasn’t in favor of the concept when the church began the children’s drama program, but over the years has become one of its strongest advocates.
“I said, ‘I am here to teach the Word and get people saved, I am not here to entertain,’” Teakell said. “But when I saw this it changed my whole outlook.”
The long hours of practice can be difficult for the youngest participants, but Teakell said teaching the value of hard work is important and performing gives the actors self-confidence.
“If you can get them to be successful in the performing arts, you’ve given them a tremendous gift,” Teakell said. “You’ve taught them that long practice and hard work have a payoff at the end.”
Howard said playing a character very different from herself was interesting, but wouldn’t like to adopt all of Miss Morebucks’ character traits.
“I like that she is really in your face, knows what she wants to do, and doesn’t get pushed around by anybody,” Howard said. “But she’s kind of rude. I would have preferred to be a godly character.”