Dave Hanson and his fancy mic.

Dave Hanson makes his Plan-B debut in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

I love art that makes me think, but I’m not fond of art that tells me what to think. I’m a big fan of Jenifer Nii’s scripts, and have had the true pleasure of working with David Evanoff several times over the years, so when Jerry Rapier called me about working on a collaboration between them . . . well, he could have asked me to be part of the wallpaper and I would have said ‘yes’!

What I found waiting for me was Joe Brown. He is strong, kind, and sure of himself and his place in existence as a Mormon husband and father. But that all goes out the window when his view of that world is challenged by the journey toward self acceptance his wife MJ embarks on. He seems to me to be the guy that wants to call himself open-minded and fair, but living in a hugely limited and finite view of the world has never given him the chance to prove it. He stands firm in what he believes, but it’s easier to do so when there’s nothing in sight to provide an alternative. To be honest, I don’t identify with Joe much on an ideological level, but I can identify completely with his plight of having your understanding of the world shaken up. I think many of us can.

Joe’s not a bad guy. Joe’s not a perfect guy. He’s a guy reacting to change, and some reactions are worse than others. I tend to think we all have something we hold dear that, once challenged, would throw us into a tailspin. We might not agree with someone’s reaction, but can certainly understand the fear of being challenged.

KINGDOM OF HEAVENStepping into this role is a reminder to me that we rarely, if ever, know the whole story. The real life stories I’ve come across recently that share similarities with those in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN are new to me. It’s refreshing. Hopefully there are more and more new challenges out there to discover.

Working with everyone involved on KINGDOM OF HEAVEN has been an insightful look into difficult issues that this fabulous script brings to light with fairness and honesty. This is certainly a necessary time to tell this particular story and I love that we are telling it without judgement, without fear, but with acceptance. Truth sells itself.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (book & lyrics by Jenifer Nii, music & lyrics by David Evanoff) receives its world premiere March 31-April 10. Click here for tickets and more information.

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