ACtS the Musical debuts in Springfield

These days, many people know Richard Carey for his role as a judge serving in the Clark County Probate Court. But, he’s also spent much of his life dedicated to music, and that diverging path has led him to write the new show - ACtS the Musical, which debuts in Springfield this weekend. 

“What most people probably don’t know is that when I left Notre Dame many years ago, I was invited to go to California and join a rock band that was already in place out there and doing pretty well. They were interested in the music I was writing,” says Carey, who didn’t follow that path, but rather came back to Springfield and followed in his father’s footsteps to become a lawyer and start a family.

“But, the inclination to play music and write music never left me, and I always continued doing that,” he says.

About 30 years ago, Carey was asked to start writing Christian music, so he switched gears from the topics he had been writing about. But, he says he stuck with the same musical styles of blues and rock.

“I was influenced by Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers and Chicago all put together,” Carey says. “I like the brass and blues feel.”

Carey has played in his own band over the years, and he says most of the music he wrote stood alone as singular pieces.

Shortly before the start of the Covid pandemic, Carey was asked to created a musical meditation to be performed during lent. He says he used the seven songs he had written and called the collection “The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Music".

“I liked the music I wrote, but when I put it together to tell a story, I was caught off guard by the reaction people had to the story,” he says. “That was what prompted me to go for this bigger project and to see what the reaction might be, and so far it has been awesome.”

ACtS tells the story of the Acts of the Apostles through the eyes of Apostle John, Carey explains. In the show, John is now an old man who has been exiled.

A young teen searches to find him because he had heard that John walked with Jesus of Nazareth, Carey says. And the teen prompts him to think back to tell the story of the Apostles. John tells version including co-protagonists Peter and Paul, who face their own colorful pasts along the way.

Carey says the identity of a stranger who taunts Peter and Paul is revealed at the end of the show.

Cast auditions started about 10 weeks ago, and when not quite enough people tried out, Carey says he and his brother – Dan Carey, who is serving as the show’s director – started reaching deeper into the community.

“We began reaching out to old theater veterans, and we built this cast to what it is today, and it’s a great company of actors,” Carey says. “They will really bring this story to life well, and the company sounds awesome together.”

As far as an audience take away, Carey says he hopes the show will spam the entire gamut of emotions, including sorrow, regret, remorse, excitement, joy, anticipation, frustration, anger and more.

“With the music, it will help people feel in touch with these Apostles who we’ve seen as bigger than life, but in reality, they are just like you and me,” he says. “The show is about redemption and second chances, and that comes through with a number of the stories that evolve during the production.”

ACtS kicks of at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at the John Legend Theater. Additional performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. Adult tickets cost $20 each, and tickets for students, seniors, and veterans will be $17 each. Tickets can be purchased here or at the door, if there are seats remaining.

Carey spoke highly of the quality of the performers in the cast, as well as the directing role his brother has filled.

“I couldn’t think of anyone better to direct this show,” he says. “No one works harder than Dan once he sinks his teeth into something.

“The end result has been just great. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of people and their efforts to take on a brand new show.”
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Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.