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Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World will kick off its 40th anniversary celebration with a performance of Lazarus: The Musical at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium on May 31, 2014. The musical is based on the New Testament parable in Luke 16 about a poor man at a rich man’s gate.
“Lazarus is more than just the re-enactment of a story,” said Bishop Don Williams, associate for African-American church relations at Bread for the World and co-producer of the musical. “It is an expression of the problem of hunger in our world and an opportunity for all of us to renew our faith and determination to end this injustice.”
Originally composed in the mid-1980s by Rev. Joel Underwood, Bread for the World’s then-director of church relations, Lazarus brings to life the story of a rich man and a beggar, highlighting how extreme wealth and poverty rub against each other. With 16 original songs, LazarusLazarus challenges audiences through plot twists that evoke new perspectives on hunger. The original run was performed in the United States, El Salvador, Australia, India, Egypt, and other countries.
“When Joel left, Lazarus went by the wayside, but I still saw potential in it,” added Williams. “The arts—and music in particular—provide us with another resource to reach people with God’s love. It’s also an effective tool for engaging more people in advocacy.”
Williams engaged his friend, noted musical director Dr. Bill Cummings, to re-arrange and update Lazarus. The new version was performed at Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering and in New York City earlier this year.
“Music has changed since the debut of Lazarus, so I wanted to make sure that—from the very first song—the melodic and harmonic structure felt contemporary” said Cummings. “I hope this fresh take on a classic story will lend a new perspective to the fight against hunger, and bring more people to faith in the process.”
The performance also commemorates Williams’ 26th anniversary working for Bread for the World as well as his retirement.
“I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Bread for the World in the fight to end hunger,” said Williams. “As I prepare to retire, it’s wonderful to know that my work will continue to touch people through the arts with Lazarus. I hope it will inspire more people to take action.”
The musical is the first of many events this summer that will celebrate Bread’s 40th anniversary, including the National Gathering and Lobby Day.
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