As you read these reviews, it's apparent that the "Canticle of the Plains" CD is now for sale at the concerts. For those overseas that have inquired, I'm still trying to get some info on how to order one. I will post as soon as I get it.
A couple other items of interest - I'm still waiting for tour info from William Morris, and there are now over 500 subscribed to the Rich Mullins Mailing List.
From: Gina Blanchette Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 13:24:53 Subject: April 18 concert Danl - Sending a review of Rich's concert and the Canticle of the Plains premiere at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL on Friday, April 18, 1997. And to you, Danl, prayers and thanks for the work you do. I had a seat directly in front of Rich and in the second row. Great seat for a concert. He and Mitch did "I Will Sing" and "Carry On." Rich all by himself sounded better than a whole orchestra and backup singers on "Sing Your Praise to the Lord." Rich and Mitch did a number with mandolin and guitar. Mitch did the lemonade song and the New Mexico song and said Rich was being real nice to let him do two songs. We did the three part round mentioned in other reviews. Rich and Mitch were waiting for Beaker to show up and he finally did with Aidan. Rich and Beaker played "Let Mercy Lead" and Aidan stayed by Beaker until he decided to start walking around the stage and Mitch had to go get him. Aidan is adorable. Julie and the baby were there, too, but off-stage. It was neat to see them. Mitch is a very good songwriter/musician/singer with a fine voice and, as has already been mentioned a very sweet, humble disposition. It was a good concert, but only lasted about 45 minutes! And I had such a good seat!! They were really just the opening act for the premiere of the play which was being put on by the Wheaton College students. Rich said it was hard opening for himself and he was right. Things were a little disjointed. Mitch even had to tell a joke while they were waiting for Beaker. Rich had to go offstage and find a mandolin while Mitch was telling the joke. In fact, when Rich initially walked on stage he apologized for his appearance. His hair was still wet and he hadn't shaved. He said he had a choice of being full or being pretty and he chose being full. He joked that he liked being here, but didn't care much for the weather. He said he wasn't our fault though, unless there was some unconfessed sin in the camp. I thought it was funny, but the crowd wasn't terribly receptive. I think I grinned through the whole concert. Rich and Mitch were amiable and weren't rattled about the arrangements. Rich's jokes weren't rude and he made several astute comments throughout the concert. Even with a shortened concert Rich managed to let us know that he was there to entertain and not tell us how to live. He said find a church and read the Bible for that. It was a mixed crowd, I think, with some there for the concert and some there 'cause they knew someone in the play. When the play started I remembered that second row is not good play seats, so I shouldn't even be allowed to review the play. I liked it; the messages in it (and there are many), the music, the story line. It was, however, the kind of play that would take many performance to get the characters down well, especially St. Frank. It's hard to play a saint. The students did an admirable job, God love them, but it didn't do full justice to the writing and the music. And it was a long play, about 2 1/2 hours . . . undoubtedly a whole lot of work for the students to get this play ready! For Rich Mullins fans it was a full night. After the play Rich and Mitch played "Awesome God", "Creed" (Just Rich and Mitch sounded really fine on this punched-up version). In honor of Wheaton teaching "theology and stuff" Rich played "Jesus Loves Me" on hammer dulcimer because that's what the Swiss theologian Karl Barth once stated as the sum total of theology - "Jesus loves me, this I know 'cause the Bible tells me so." And he closed with "Sometimes By Step" and all the cast members came out to sing with him. They walked off stage and there was applause, but the houselights were turned on and there was no encore. Personally, I wanted more concert although it was already 11:30. Rich had seemed amenable to continuing as he had earlier stated that this is about the time he usually gets warmed up. It's almost as if I need to go to a Rich Mullins concert now 'cause this one was too short. Anyone want to send me comp tickets to the Peoria concert?? I think it's May 3. I'm serious! But I did get to hear the play, get the pre-release of Canticle of the Plains (and it is way fine!) see and hear Mitch, see Beaker and the family, and enjoy what there was of the concert. I think it was difficult for Rich and Mitch to start a concert, quit, then finish up a couple hours later. The crowd never seemed to get warmed up as a whole and that has gotta be hard on the performers. But what I really want to know is what were Rich, Mitch and Beaker doing during the play?? Gina Blanchette firstname.lastname@example.org
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From: Chris Smith Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 04:45:59 (EDT) Subject: Rich Mullins' Concert/Canticle of the Plains: Wheaton College Dear Danl, I just recently attended the Rich Mullins premier The Canticle of the Plains a t Wheaton College. Here is my review: Rich opened and closed the evening with concert. Some of his most popular songs were played including: Awesome God, Creed, Let Mercy Lead, Step by Step. Sandwiched in between the concert was The Canticle of the Plains a musical based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi performed by students from Wheaton College. Over all it was an interesting evening. Rich was excellent as usual, I could listen to him play for hours. However, The Canticle of the Plains was very difficult to follow. The sound system was poor making it even more difficult to understand. I had read once before that Rich could always tell a new songwriter because everything the songwriter believed would be included in one song. As a new playwrite, I feel that Rich has done the same thing. I do not want to be critical because I have so much respect for Rich as a songwriter. I am confident that as time goes on, Rich will become as brilliant at writing plays as he is at writing music. Worthy of note: My sister purchased the pre-released CD of Canticle of the Plains and we have been listening to it ever since. The music is wonderful and I would recommend it to everyone. Chris Smith Chicago, IL
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Subject: Canticle of the Plains Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 22:33:20 From: Leta Blank The Canticle of the Plains musical at Wheaton College was a very beautiful play. It was everything a play should be, full of romance, humor, history, depth, and much more. I think it portrayed St. Francis' life very well into the 19th century at a level that we could grasp. It portrays how God touches one persons life and how he touches others through that one person. Frank giving up his wealthy life because he experienced God in a very real way in the prairie on the way home from the war. He then spends much time alone with God, wandering around, letting God love him and teaching him how to love. Then he meets Buzz's mom and she sees that special love of God in him and knows that Buzz is to be his buddy. Frank and Buzz go off on a cattle drive together and go through Kansas where Frank was from. They visit with two of his childhood friends, Clare and Ivory. Ivory is a piano player in a saloon. Clare sees God in Frank, but Ivory is skeptical, but after talking with Frank, he realizes he too wants to be free and experience God. Clare likes Frank but realizes she can't be with him right now because they really need God first. Ivory continues on with Frank and Buzz and people are converted wherever they go. Clare goes to Texas and does some nursing and growing closer to God. Frank and the others meet up with a guy named Lefty, (a gold miner) who comes to know God through Frank, Buzz, and Ivory. They decide to search for Dineh Bekeya, a place Frank and Ivory dreamed up when they were kids, but Lefty says he knows that place and it's real. They get a message that Clare is going to meet them and they send word for her to come to Dineh Bekeya. Ivory says he wishes he had a girl meeting him there and Lefty says there is a beautiful Indian princess there. Lefty gives his gold to Ivory for a dowry for the princess. They then join together with a band of Indians that have soldiers after them. Ivory uses his gold to buy food, blankets, and guns. But they don't need the guns because God causes the enemy to destroy themselves. Turns out the beautiful Indian princess was with the band of Indians and is so touched by Ivory's generosity and while talking to him they fall in love. They all go on to Dineh Bekeya and live happily ever after. Throughout the play are songs that are so beautiful and touching and really help to deliver the story line. I thought the performers did an excellent job of portraying all that Rich, Mitch, and Beaker meant it to be. There were also other messages in the play about the four creatures that surround the throne of God, how they represent the four gospels, and how they represented four of the characters. I could also see the three personalities that created this play, Rich, Mitch, and Beaker in different parts and in different characters throughout the play. I don't know if that was intentional or not but they did shine through. Leta
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