Q&A / BRAD SHERRILL:
By-the-Book show always inspired
Rosalind Bentley - Staff
Saturday, August 28, 2004
There are nearly 20,000 words in the Gospel of St. John, and
Brad Sherrill knows every one of them.
He has to. It is largely the way he makes his living.
For the past four years Sherrill has been performing the entire
Gospel as a sort of one-man show. Though he plays primarily in
churches around the country, Sherrill had a six-week, off-Broadway
run last year at Lamb's Theater. Well known in Atlanta theater
circles for his performances at the Alliance Theater and the Georgia
Shakespeare Festival, the Chamblee resident will be in town on
Saturday performing at Sugar Hill United Methodist Church.
So we chatted with him this week about faith, the musical "Cats,"
and "The Da Vinci Code" theories.
Q: You've performed this show almost exclusively at churches.
But in many ways John is an appeal to the searching nonbeliever.
Why not branch out more often into other venues?
A: This is year four of doing this and I've had four theater
runs in that time. What I've found is that people who are hesitant
to go into church will go into a secular setting like a theater.
So part of the journey of this is to pursue and get theater runs
and not just preach to the choir.
(Plans are in the works for a fifth theater run in Toronto at
Brookstone Performing Arts Theater).
Q: Of all of Christ's miracles, which, for you, is the most amazing?
A: It would have to be the one that is singularly in John, the
raising of Lazarus (from the dead). Even if you look at it as
a metaphor, it's a metaphor for being brought back to life, that
there's new life in Christ.
I believe miracles happen now, it's just we're slow to recognize
And I would say that the shortest scripture verse is in John:
Q: So is that your shortest line in the show?
A: (Laughs) That's my shortest line.
Q: OK, so which of the miracles do you have the most difficult
A: The hardest is also the Lazarus one. Of all the ones, that
and walking on water. Because they are so amazing. But either
you believe them or you don't. I do.
Q: Do you ever worry about being typecast?
A: No, I don't. As an early part of my career I was cast as the
young lover because I looked so young. But I've done the Georgia
Shakespeare Festival and I've done things completely different
from John, such as a naughty British farce, "What the Butler
Q: Ever feel that with John you're doing the biblical version
of "Cats," in that your show is so long-running? How
do you keep such a show as yours fresh, if that's possible?
A: John is 75 percent of my work now, so it's nice to leave solo
work from time to time to do different things.
But I don't consider (John) a play; I consider it a proclamation.
So here's what I tell myself to keep it fresh. I tell myself before
each performance that 'This is the last time I'll be able to tell
it, and the first time they'll be able to see it.' That sets the
bar high. And because the Gospels are alive and infused with a
spirit, there's something different every night. And people respond
in different ways. Some people come to see it as purely theater.
If I ever felt that it was becoming rote, I'd stop. But I'll
tell you that it's a lot easier to stay fresh with this than if
I were doing "What the Butler Saw" over and over. Or
"Cats." That is if I could sing and dance.
Q: What did you think of the book, "The Da Vinci Code"?
A good bit of your "material" is fodder for that book.
A: I think it's good in that it's getting people to talk about
faith publicly. People are so nervous about doing that, wondering
what others will think. So I think it's good when things pop up
to make us examine faith.
But I thought it was a great read; I read it fast. And there
were things in there that I didn't know about, like this idea
of Da Vinci hiding things in his work. I mean, I looked at a picture
of the Last Supper after that and I did see where one of the disciples
maybe kind of looked like a woman, though I don't know if it was
Mary Magdalene or not.
It was a great read. But it didn't shake my faith.