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Local performers come together at Judy Bayley—for a higher purpose

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Forty voices, a 13-piece orchestra and 10 dancers anchored the production of God Lives in Glass.
Dawn-Michelle Baude

I’m not a religious person, so it’s odd that I ended up at the August 25 musical production of God Lives in Glass at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre. “I come every year,” the music teacher in front of me at the box office said. One line over, a trio of professional dancers (judging by the legs in their shorts) negotiated the seating chart. “Give her a good seat!” Jeffrey P. Koep, the UNLV Dean of Fine Arts, advised the staff on my behalf. “And I want one, too.”

Conducted by Keith Thompson and presented almost annually since 2006, God Lives in Glass draws on top talent from Las Vegas’ top shows. This year’s production featured a 40-voice chorus, a 13-piece orchestra and 10 dancers, and benefitted Family Promise of Las Vegas and the Nevada Conservatory Theatre. “City of Walls,” sung by Joan Sobel and Bruce Ewing, and solos from Eric Tewalt (sax) and musical director Philip Fortenberry (piano) brought the audience to its feet.

A reputation for excellence has built a loyal audience, but God Lives in Glass strikes a deeper chord. Based on a book by Robert J. Landy, it emerged post-9/11, as Landy questioned the role of faith. He set out to interview kids about God, which led him around the world. “God is tomato,” one child offered. “Not everyone goes straight to heaven. You can go to hell or puberty,” said another.

As the U.S. presidential campaign redefines Christianity and casualties heap on the road to eternal life, God Lives in Glass reminds us that kids’ concepts of the sacred have a lot in common. Whether they’re pure Darwinians glorifying science, young faithfuls worshipping deities or laid-back Buddhists, we all want something we can really believe in.

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