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Lazarus was originally composed in the mid 1980s by Rev. Joel Underwood, Bread for the World's former director of church relations. Louise F. Carlson and Sam V. Nickels arranged his music.
In 2013, noted musical director Dr. Bill Cummings re-arranged the music to make it more contemporary. But the words and the story remain the same.
The parable, found in Luke 16:19-31, features the story of a rich man (Dives) and a beggar (Lazarus) and their relationship in life and in the afterlife. Lazarus: The Musical brings Luke's narrative into today’s world—and into places where extreme wealth and poverty rub against each other.
Besides Lazarus and Dives, the characters of this musical include Dives' five brothers, their wives, landless laborers, and children living in poverty. It also features Abraham, a troubadour who serves as the narrator.
While it recognizes the somber ending of the original biblical story, Lazarus allows us to consider what might have happened if had Dives been given a second chance. Along with Dives, the audience is also given a new opportunity to respond to hunger.
The premiere of the new Lazarus is produced by Bread for the World, with Bill Cummings and Bishop Don DiXon Williams as the producers. The choral director is performing artist Felicia Kessel Crawley, and the musical director is White House musician Glen Pearson.
The premiere was held on Saturday, May 31, 2014, in the Kreeger Theater at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C. The DVD includes a PDF presentation for the performance.