What is Jericho Road and where will it end?

Lead actors Kristy Maletin and Fomai Mohr explore in the Avondale College of Higher Education musical event Jericho Road what it means to be faithful when trust—in themselves, each other and God—is shattered. (Photo: Lindsay Morton)

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Members of the audience will choose how an Avondale academic’s musical event about love, loss and faithfulness ends by attending one of three different stagings.

Jericho Road will premiere over three nights in three locations next month (March). The musical event has three endings, “so depending on which performance you attend, you’ll see something a little different,” said Dr Lindsay Morton, Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Arts, Nursing and Theology.

Written in response to The Last Five Years, a musical by Jason Robert Brown, Jericho Road explores the meaning of faithfulness in the face of devastating loss. It tells the story of a young and talented Christian couple who are deeply in love. But when life does not meet his expectations, Jacob Carver leaves home and family to pursue his dreams. The decision shatters his wife, Leila, and their daughter, Mali. The Carvers give voice to their struggles with marriage and faith but through shifting perspectives from opposite points in the relationship.

In keeping with its emotive themes and tone, Jericho Road is not “an all-singing-all-dancing kind of show.” Music is a feature, though. Dr Morton composed the songs and wrote the lyrics while music specialisation student Oliver Doyle, with classmate Emily Dorrough and Dr Morton, produced the score. “Expect beautiful lyrics accompanied by rich harmonies and a small orchestra,” said Ms Dorrough.

Dr Morton hopes Jericho Road will make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the “strong tradition of performance and musical theatre” at Avondale College of Higher Education. She also hopes it will give new students experience in producing a musical event.

One of the aims is to have students fill every production and promotion role. “This is why we want students to see Jericho Road,” said Ms Dorrough, “to support their peers and the hard work they’re putting into the musical.”

Productions such as Jericho Road and Chariot: the Eric Liddell story, a collaboration with United Kingdom-based Searchlight Theatre Company in 2014, build confidence in students, says Dr Wayne French. The chaplain on Avondale’s Lake Macquarie campus describes the events as “always super positive” because they also bring members of the community to campus and position Avondale as a provider of Christian higher education.

But delivering a message to members of the community is not why Dr Morton and her team are producing Jericho Road. Rather, they are simply posing thought-provoking questions, such as, “What does it mean to be faithful when someone else has broken their vow?” and “How is it possible to be faithful to God when He appears to be silent?”

“I hope those who see Jericho Road are not only moved emotionally but also challenged to think more deeply about the musical’s themes and how they might play out individually and corporately in our lives,” said Dr Morton.

Jericho Road: You choose where the story ends . . . Preston Place, Avondale College of Higher Education (Lake Macquarie campus) Thursday, March 23. Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, Friday, March 24. Wahroonga Seventh-day Adventist Church, Saturday, March 25. Tickets from $15. Visit www.avondale.edu.au/events.

Marcel Neuhoff graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and history from Avondale College of Higher Education in 2016.

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