This musical is based on the story of Jesus’ birth as recounted in the gospels. Mary and Joseph had a very special love for one another. Few could imagine that they did not have conversations about their dreams, hopes, and aspirations. What young couple does not sit under a starry sky and imagine what their futures will hold. Joseph and Mary were no different. This musical includes the characters of Mary and Joseph of course, but also the sister (Joannah) that Joseph might well have had, Mary’s parents, Gabriel, and the wonderful Aunt Elizabeth and her adoring husband Zechariah.
Our story begins with the cast singing the beautiful opening number entitled “A Night of Glory.” The opening lyrics set up the story perfectly:
A tiny village; a lonely stable;
No one suspected that God was able.
Born in a manger in Bethlehem;
A star from Heaven shines down upon Him. (cont.)
Following this [full cast] opening number our story begins in a garden where Mary and her best friend Joannah are having a conversation about Mary’s recent betrothal to Joseph. As best of friends they are excited about the possibilities the future holds. Joseph soon enters the garden and Joannah exits to leave the “soon to wed” couple alone under the night sky. During their conversation Mary sees a falling star and tells Joseph that as a child her mother told her that they were angels being sent to earth on a “special assignment.” Mary and Joseph laugh together at the notion thought both are probably wishing in their hearts that such simple things were truly possible. Their conversation is light hearted until Joseph finds himself telling Mary why he was attracted to her. It was her purity, obedience to God’s law, and love for God the Father that caused him to fall in love. The title song to the show (Heaven Came Down) is sung as a duet just before Joseph exits. The song is a beautiful duet between this, the most famous couple in the bible.
After Joseph leaves Mary is left alone in the garden for a moment while she soaks in the security and presence of God she finds herself feeling because of Joseph’s love for her. Then, in an instant, she is in the presence of the angel Gabriel. He says to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have been chosen above all women to be the mother of God’s son. He shall be the Savior of the world…the Messiah.” Their conversation continues and Mary is overcome with peace and joy. When Gabriel leaves she realizes that she is in a world of trouble with her family. “Joannah will believe me…” she says as she runs off stage and the scene comes to a close.
The story progresses and eventually Joseph is confronted first by Mary with this unbelievable story – and then by his own emotions. He is in utter disbelief and finds himself needing time alone to take it all in. The scene ends with the passionate song Joseph sings as a soliloquy, “Mary, Why?”
Meanwhile, Mary tells her Mother and Father about the visit from the angel Gabriel. Her mother is quite compassionate and understanding. However, Mary’s father thinks first of only the repercussions from their family and the community in Nazareth. The scene ends with the powerful and thoughtful quartet sung by Mary, her mother and father, and Joseph. Each is in their own “world.” Each is equally perplexed.
Mary and her mother soon visit Elizabeth and Zechariah. These two are the comic relief in our story. A lively conversation takes place and, though always quick with a joke and full of good humor, Elizabeth is also very, very wise. She helps Mary see that she must “rejoice” in what God has done. And, she helps Mary understand that God is surely going to work everything out because clearly he has a plan to include Joseph in her life and in the life of the messiah that was now living inside of her.
Soon, back in Nazareth, Joseph is confronted by his sister Joannah. They have a heated conversation about Mary’s “condition.” The visit by his sister leaves him exhausted and Joseph falls fast asleep after she leaves. Joseph dreams that night and is told by an angel that the child Mary carries is indeed the Son of God. Joseph approaches Mary the next day not knowing whether she will take him back into her life or not. Naturally Mary is thrilled that Joseph now too understands and their love for one another is renewed.
Soon, the couple travel to Bethlehem when they are forced to take shelter in the only place they can find… a lonely stable. Here, Mary and Joseph together contemplate the night sky and what God has done for them. They know the future will be difficult but boldly accept that challenge. The brightest star ever shines over Bethlehem that night. Jesus is born and the air is filled with music. The entire cast joins Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus on stage as they reprise the song, “A Night of Glory.” The final lyrics in the musical are:
This is a night of glory, a time to praise the new born King.
So spread the Christmas story,
And let us lift our voice on high and sing!
This is a night of glory, a time to praise the new born King.
So spread the Christmas story, and let us lift our voice on high and sing!
A night of glory, so lift your voice and sing!
There are few who do not know the story of the birth of Jesus. The story is familiar, yet Gloria Emmerich has touch a chord in people’s hearts with her rendition of this famous account. By incorporating interactions of characters not usually incorporated in the story the audience feels as though they themselves might have been there 2000 years ago. People have not changed in their hearts and audience members are made to feel that the story is happening in today’s world…with today’s headlines surrounding them. There are few dry eyes in the audience during the scene where Mary and Joseph “make up” or in the finale. The mix of comedy and drama are perfect. Appropriate reverence is giving to all characters in the musical.
The running time of this musical is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It can be shortened with simple cuts in several of the longer scenes. There are eight powerful songs in the show including solos, duets, a trio, a quartet and several choral numbers.
Cast of Characters
Asa (Mary’s father)
Joannah (Joseph’s sister)
Bernice (Mary’s mother)
Unlimited number of male and female chorus members.
THE USE OF A CHORUS
A chorus can easily be incorporated into this musical. Due to stage size, the original production did not utilize a chorus. However, a chorus of virtually any size could be added to a number of the scenes throughout the musical.
As a point of interest, (and so you know it is possible), in the original production the following roles were played by the same actor:
Asa and Zechariah
Doubling roles is accomplished with makeup, wigs, and costumes. We mention this because it demonstrates the possibility of doing a larger scale show such as this with a relatively small cast. (The original cast was made up of four men and four women.) On the other hand, you can easily utilize several dozen actors in this production by adding a chorus and not having actors play dual roles.
SET AND PROP REQUIREMENTS
As with all of our musicals, the sets can be very simple with only minimal scenery—leaving it up to the audience to “fill in the blanks.” The garden scene, Mary’s home, Elizabeth’s home, Joseph’s bedroom, and the stable are all simple to construct. This information, and dozens of other production helps are all found in the Director’s Notes which come as part of the Musical Production Kit. Sample pictures of sets used in the original production of this, and many other Gloria Emmerich musicals, can be found by going to the photo gallery on this website.