Lindsay Morton at piano

Jericho Road’s writer responds

Friday, March 10, 2017
This is the Avondale academic who’s about to challenge your thinking about faithfulness

An Avondale academic hopes the premiere of her musical event about love, loss and faithfulness will provoke more questions than for which it provides answers.

Dr Lindsay Morton’s Jericho Road will challenge members of the audience to ask questions such as “What does it mean to be faithful when someone else has broken their vow?” and “How is it possible to be faithful to God when He appears to be silent?”. In keeping with its emotive themes and tone, Jericho Road is not “an all-singing-all-dancing kind of show,” says Morton, Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Arts, Nursing and Theology.

So, what is it and from where did it come? Graduate Marcel Neuhoff asked Morton these and other questions.

What inspired you to write Jericho Road?
About eight years ago, a friend introduced me to Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years. I loved it, but a few years later I found myself wondering what the story might have looked like if the characters were Christian. So, in some way, the plot of Jericho Road is a response to The Last Five Years—it plays out the same scenario but with different questions and themes.

You describe Jericho Road as a musical event. What’s the difference between it and a musical?
I’m calling it a musical event so people don’t come with the wrong expectations—it’s not an all-singing-all-dancing kind of show! Like The Last Five Years, Jericho Road has only two lead characters, and the supporting cast members don’t have major roles. It’s not necessarily a feel-good musical. And it has more than one ending, so depending on which performance you attend, you’ll see something a little different.

You could—or should—be writing academic papers rather than producing a musical. Why do it for minimal professional credit?
Let me assure you, the research continues! I’ve had six deadlines for papers over the past couple of months. But to answer your question, writing academic papers and producing a musical are both thoroughly enjoyable creative and intellectual endeavours: they require a defensible thesis (or plot), coherent themes, convincing content and the ability to take readers (or an audience) on a journey. In fact, working on a project like this makes me a better academic—producing a musical creates an enormous amount of energy, which I am channelling into my scholarship. I hope the cast and crew find the same thing to be true.

You wrote another musical, First Love, which premiered at Avondale in 2003. In what ways do you see Jericho Road building on the success of First Love?
Avondale produces excellent musicians and has a strong tradition of performance and musical theatre, so I hope this musical event will make a meaningful and lasting contribution to that wider tradition. And I hope it gives a new generation of students the opportunity to experience something that will become one of the highlights from their time at college.

Is there a message you hope members of the audience take away after seeing Jericho Road?
Absolutely not. If people walk away with a message, Jericho Road won’t have achieved its purpose. One of the functions of the arts is to pose questions rather than produce answers. So, without trying to claim or expect too much, I hope those who see Jericho Road are not only moved emotionally but also challenged to think more deeply about the musical’s themes and how they might play out individually and corporately in our lives.

Jericho Road: You choose where the story ends . . .

Jericho Road is a musical event about love, loss and faithfulness. Premiering over three nights (March 23-25, 2017) in different locations with different endings, Avondale College of Higher Education invites you to join Jacob and Leila Carver as they explore what it means to be faithful when trust—in themselves, each other and God—is shattered.

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Marcel Neuhoff

Marcel Neuhoff graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and history from Avondale College of Higher Education in 2016.