The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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August 25, 2013

Oakland United Methodist music drama tackles Columbine tragedy from a spiritual angle

JOHNSTOWN — A story that made national headlines will be viewed from a spiritual perspective.

“It’s Not Too Late,” an inspirational Christian musical drama based on the Columbine tragedy, will be presented as a dinner theater at 6 p.m. Sept. 6-8 at Oakland United Methodist Church, 1504 Bedford St..

With high school students from different churches and school districts making up most of his cast, director Mike D’Angelo has been holding three-hour Saturday morning rehearsals since June, with a few extra rehearsals added in.

D’Angelo said his young cast has had fun working together and meeting new people and is handling the serious subject matter well.

There will be four adults in the cast, three teachers and a cafeteria lady.

“I heard about the play and had seen it on the Internet and wanted to direct it several years ago, but the timing wasn’t right,” D’Angelo said.

D’Angelo contacted playwright Dick Lentz personally.

While the play depicts the entire Columbine story except for the actual shootings, it is also a story of decisions people make about God.

“Few of us will forget what happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., April 20, 1999,” Lentz said on his website. “We’re troubled by what happened there that day, but we also want to know why it happened.

“What caused these two individuals to take such extreme measures to express what they were feeling inside?

“I was moved to view this tragedy from a spiritual standpoint. A person’s relationship with God affects their outlook on life as well as their ability to cope with it.”

The play depicts a normal high school student’s day from fun times to classes to bullying, then events turn, the shooter snaps, and the rest is history.

The students who were killed will then be brought out, and it will be depicted where they will spend eternity.

“It’s very inspirational,” D’Angelo said. “What choices do people make about God? You have to make your own choice.”

The play was originally performed in 2000 and has since gone on to circle the world.

“This will be in time for going back to school so kids can be more aware of what is going on,” D’Angelo said. “Kids can see what it’s like to be there. It can happen so fast. They need to be observant.”

The dinner theater will feature a different menu each night – lasagna Sept. 6, swiss steak Sept. 7 and chicken cordon bleu Sept. 8.

The dinners will be served by church members and other community members.

“There will be priority seating for dinner patrons, and limited seating for nondinner patrons,” D’Angelo said. “They will be seated last.”

The deadline for dinner reservations is Aug. 31.

Proceeds will go to the renovation of the Family Kitchen.

“The way I figured it, there are other good causes, but this is already being worked on. This was the right ministry.”

Ruth Rice covers features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/RuthRiceTD.

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