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“This is not your grandmother’s church pageant,” said former UCF student Dawn Fleming.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando is reaching new audiences through its award-winning musical theater program. The UCF Community, through theater partnerships, has been instrumental in the production of this show.

“The foundation of all we do is rooted in Christ’s love and expressed through radical acceptance, hospitality, discipleship, community and service,” said St. Luke’s lead pastor, Jennifer Williams.

St. Luke’s church aims to create an environment where people from the community can engage in supporting local actors, actresses, musicians and others interested in fine arts.

“The performances at St. Luke’s brings in people from all different walks of life. It brings in people who would never dare step foot into a church,” said Samantha Uhrig, who plays the role of Zaneeta Shinn, the mayor’s oldest daughter in St. Luke’s production of The Music Man.

On Aug. 14, St. Luke’s opened its first showing of this year’s musical, The Music Man, which was one of eight performances this year.

The musical, consisting of two acts with a total of 18 scenes encompasses a live orchestra, more than 100 cast members and countless production team volunteers in each performance.

In previous years, St. Luke’s has put on other popular productions such as, Hairspray, Ragtime and Big Fish.

“Now, theatergoers in Central Florida look forward to these annual productions, and we’ve become known for full-scale productions,” Fleming said.

Freshman music theater major Mitchell Marbais also had the opportunity to participate in St. Luke’s musical theater program for the second year. He encourages anyone interested in community theater to become involved in any way.

“Theater and fine arts embrace and encourage a welcoming community that learns from each other. Not only do we have the opportunity to interact with seasoned actors and musicians, a lot of them got their start here as well,” Marbais said.

Senior music and psychology major, Brandon Scheetz, said his involvement with UCF Orchestra has helped him to participate in community organizations, such as St. Luke’s.

“UCF has and continues to prepare me for my involvement with community organizations such as St. Luke’s by providing valuable instruction during lessons and practice sessions,” Scheetz said.

Through its performances, St. Luke’s hopes that people can see the power of love and how it can transform a community.

“The most important thing I could share is to never count out small productions and to continue to support local musicians,” Scheetz said.

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Lauren Konkol is a Contributing Writer for Central Florida Future

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