La Sierra University Drama will present a new musical play, “God’s Peculiar People,” opening at 7:30 p.m. May 11 in Matheson Hall on the La Sierra University campus, 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside.
Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. May 13 and 14, also in Matheson Hall.
“God’s Peculiar People,” written by Marilynn Loveless of Redlands with music by Merlin David, is set in 1962 and is about a family dealing with a returning son who has left the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The prodigal son returns home and he’s not alone. David’s family thinks he’s bringing a girl home for the weekend — but Leslie turns out to be a boy. Mayhem ensues in this gently satiric examination of the vagaries of organized religion in a time of innocence.
The play pokes gentle fun of the peculiarities of the Seventh-day Adventist Church while provoking a discussion of the role of women, patriarchal authority, tribalism, dogma, grace and inclusion vs. exclusion in a church setting.
The cast includes Deborah McFatter and Ali Rafter of Redlands, Carl Canwell and Ariel Lynch of Yucaipa and Scotty Ray of Calimesa.
Others are Jim Bock, Merlin David, Kelly Reed, Bryce Vails, Aydin Mallery, Joel Michael David, Paul Mallery and Alexandra Escobar.
Set design is by Brady Greer Huffman and costumes are by Marti Olson, both of Redlands.
Marilynn Loveless is the artistic director of the theater program at La Sierra University, where she teaches acting, directing and writing classes.
She has directed and produced more than 70 plays, earning several meritorious achievement awards for direction from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
Her previous career as a writer and producer in television involved the production of more than 135 half-hour television shows in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
She has received several screen-writing grants, and one of her screenplays made the short-list for the Sundance feature film project in 2001.
She received a doctorate from the School of Arts at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.
She has lived in the Loma Linda and Redlands area on and off since 1971.
“God’s Peculiar People” is her first full-length stage play.
Merlin David, who wrote the music for “God’s Peculiar People” and plays the Guardian Angel, is the owner and publisher of M Music & Musicians magazine and has been writing, recording and performing music since 1979. He won a best supporting actor award from the Inland Theater League in 1990 for his performance in “Solid Gold Cadillac.”
His songs for “God’s Peculiar People” are in a variety of styles and genres, including a reggae “28 Fundamental Beliefs.”
Tickets are $20. For tickets, call 951-785-2241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask for directions to Matheson Hall, a former chapel, at the security kiosk at the main entrance to the university.
Source: Marilynn Loveless, La Sierra University