BJU hosts 22nd Living Gallery, “Somewhere Forever”

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BJU hosts 22nd Living Gallery, “Somewhere Forever”

Bob Jones University presents Living Gallery where art comes to life. This masterpiece, The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, containing live models, was produced in 2014. Photo by Jim Block

Living Gallery will be presented for the 22nd year at Bob Jones University this April 18 to 20.  This year, Living Gallery is titled “Somewhere Forever” and will be directed by Jefferey Stegall of BJU’s theatre department.

Stegall has directed several Living Gallery productions, including the first one in 1998.  Stegall’s assistant director is Jared Lane, a junior composition major.

Dr. Ken Renfrow, the director of piano pedagogy, is in charge of the music.  Kim Stegall, freelance author and wife of director Jefferey Stegall, wrote the script portion of this year’s Living Gallery. The drama was previously performed in 2012.

A total of seven showings are taking place, with showings at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on April 18 and April 19, and at 2 p.m. 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on April 20.  Stegall said the name of the performance comes from a Dr. Bob Jones Sr. quote that spoke of how everyone will spend eternity somewhere.  “Everybody has to live somewhere forever,” Stegall said. “When you come to the realization that this life is not all that we have, that you are going to be somewhere forever, then that’s a sobering thought.” 

Stegall sees the production as not just a work of art but also as a means of sharing the Gospel.

“It’s exciting to think there are probably going to be 5,000 people from town and the surrounding states who have never visited campus before, and that we are going to be able to present what we’re most passionate about, Jesus Christ our Savior,” Stegall said. “Some of the people who come are not believers yet, and I know of people in previous productions that came to know the Lord because they were introduced to the Gospel at Living Gallery.”

Renfrow said that “Somewhere Forever” is his favorite Living Gallery performance.  “I’ve been the music producer for Living Gallery for over a decade, and this is my favorite drama. In my opinion, it gives the most powerful Gospel presentation of all the dramas that we do in Living Gallery.”

The idea of Living Gallery was introduced at Bob Jones University by Dr. Bob Jones III.  He was inspired by the art form of tableau vivant, which is the practice of recreating art pieces using people.

Stegall said Jones saw a tableau vivant production in Laguna Beach, California, as well as in a church in Los Angeles.  “They said if we built it out here on the East Coast that it would be the biggest show that we have, and it has turned into the biggest production that we do,” Stegall said.

This year’s play is set in a coffee shop and follows the stories of two baristas and two regular customers.  The characters include Jim, a Christian businessman who is played by Dr. Gary Weier; and Lizzie, played by Brooke Henige, a junior theatre major.  The other two characters are the baristas, Chris and Tyler, who are played by exercise science major Nickolas Zukowski and junior Christian ministries major Max Burak.

Some of the art that will be featured in this year’s performance are the perennial favorites “The Last Supper” by Leonardo DaVinci, “The Divine Servant” by Max Greiner and “Descent from the Cross” by Lenckhardt. This year’s performance will also be the first to include a piece of secular artwork, “Nighthawk” by Edward Hopper.

Renfrow said that he works closely with Director Stegall to make sure the music complements everything happening onstage.  “The music is integral to creating the mood for the moment and helping to communicate the truths in the drama and artwork,” Renfrow said. “Since Living Gallery is our single best opportunity to get the Gospel into the community, we don’t take the musical choices lightly or haphazardly. Each one serves a definite, intentional purpose whether vocal or instrumental.”

This year, all the music for the performance was prerecorded by faculty and students.  The pieces they will be playing will include “Gentle Voice,” “His Mercy Is More,” “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” “Elegy for the Harp and Strings,” “For God So Loved the World,” “Amazing Love” and “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”

Also included in this year’s production will be the song “Sinless Forever,” composed by Kim Stegall and Nikki Eoute, an administrative assistant in the Division of Art and Design, to go with the performance.