Sunday, October 1, 2023

“Cotton Patch Gospel” at Lamb’s Players Theatre: A Southern Delight of Biblical Proportions

“Cotton Patch Gospel” successfully weaves a tapestry of religious storytelling, Southern culture, and bluegrass melodies, making it a wonderful theatrical experience. Photo: LAMB’s Players Theatre

A unique and charming theatrical experience awaits audiences at LAMB’s Players Theatre with “Cotton Patch Gospel.” Set in the heart of the American South, this 90-minute musical adaptation of Clarence Jordan’s book, “The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John,” takes viewers on a soul-stirring journey through the New Testament infused with a delightful Southern twist. With cheeky references to the parables of Jesus, bluegrass tunes that’ll be stuck in your head, and a heartwarming portrayal of the Gospel narrative on the actors’ parts, “Cotton Patch Gospel” is a joyful celebration of spirituality and community. As audience member Trevor MacLeod shared, “It keeps you so captivated that you don’t even notice time flying by in the play or reality. The band is phenomenal too.”

Primarily set in rural Gainesville, Georgia, the musical embraces Jordan’s colloquial translation of the New Testament, inviting the audience to witness biblical events from a vantage point with delightful regional flare. From Moon Pie-filled reinterpretations of Jesus’ miracles to John the Baptist conducting baptisms in the Chattahoochee River, every scene carries a sense of familiarity, humor, and genuine affection for the story of Jesus and the lives He continues to touch.

The characters in “Cotton Patch Gospel” are portrayed with an earnest authenticity by frontrunners Bryan Barbarin (“Johnny”), Michael Louis Cusimano (“Matthew”), and Ernest Sauceda (“Rock”). Their Southern drawls add an amusing twist and highlight the cultural amalgamation and playfulness that defines this adaptation. Beyond its light-hearted sense of humor, too, the play manages to delve into profound themes of love, compassion, and the power of faith. It explores the transformative impact of Jesus’ universal teachings on the lives of everyday people, inspiring them to lean on each other and find hope during life’s bleaker times. In short, the reimagined dialogue showcases the belief that divinity can manifest in even the most humble of circumstances.

Another of the play’s standout features is its grin-inducing soundtrack, performed by a live bass-strummin’ bluegrass band. The sixteen songs each hold their own, but two of the star numbers include “Somethin’s Brewin’ in Gainesville” and “We’re Gonna Love It While It Lasts,” which seamlessly accompany the narrative and elevate the emotional depth of its storytelling. As well, Mary and Joseph’s “You Are Still My Boy” tugs on the heartstrings and highlights the highs and lows of watching as your children spread their wings.

Overall, “Cotton Patch Gospel” is a gem that brings fresh imagination to the timeless and uplifting stories of Jesus. LAMB’s Players Theatre provides the perfect home for this Off-Broadway production, as its intimate setting creates a sense of connection and that peaceful Sunday-morning feel. So, gather your kin, put on your “Sunday best,” and head to the theatre before September 3rd (just recently extended!) for an evening of soul-nourishing entertainment.

Lively music, heartfelt lyrics, and divine performances by the cast and band alike create an enchanting Southern Gospel experience. Photo: LAMB’s Players Theatre

Run Time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Main Cast: Bryan Barbarin, Michael Louis Cusimano, Ernest Sauceda
Band: Shawn Rohlf, Greg Campbell, Brandon Wallace, Oliver Shirley III
Showtimes & Tickets: Click Here



Caroline Minchella
Caroline Minchella
Caroline was 15 years old when her family moved to Coronado. Though she was a “transplant”, Caroline found a home in the Coronado community near-immediately: she became an intern for “The Coronado Times”; helped reinstate the CHS newspaper, “The Islander Times”; was a volunteer dog-walker for PAWS; and a faithful Concert in the Park attendee.After completing her BA in English at the University of California Santa Barbara, she went on to craft answers for Amazon Alexa devices and write creatively on the side. Fast forward seven years, Caroline is thrilled to return as a Reporter for “The Coronado Times.” Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]