Luke 24 Inspires First Original EU Musical

The Eastern Theater Department, in conjunction with the music and dance departments, is planning to go where it has never ventured before: writing, composing and performing an original musical that will be performed at Eastern in the spring.

This idea was conceived by Jenny Tibbels, the new director of theater this semester. Before coming to Eastern, Tibbels became enthralled with the story of the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24, in which Jesus walked with his disciples after his resurrection, but did not immediately reveal his identity to them. This story of identity and revelation spoke to Tibbels, and she “felt like God was inspiring a piece to be created.”

When Tibbels began working at Eastern this fall, she continued brainstorming on how she could make a piece for theater based on her experience with Luke 24. She contacted a playwright she had worked with in New York City, Edgar Mendoza, who agreed to participate in Tibbels’ vision. Tibbels also invited Mendoza to participate in the Eastern theater event, the September Project, during which students from Tibbels’ Actor’s Lab course performed short scenes they created from improvisational class work.

Students in Actor's Lab
Students in Actor’s Lab Leah Wilson | The Waltonian
While working with the students for the September Project, Tibbels wondered whether the work done by the students in Actor’s Lab, in conjunction with Mendoza, could be a way to create a script for her vision, “and that is what Actor’s Lab has become this semester.”

As Mendoza, Tibbels, and the students began working together on this piece, Tibbels met with other departments and professors at Eastern to invite them to participate in the production. Ron Matthews, David Bryant and Steve Ford from the music department agreed to work with the Theater department to add the Eastern choir and orchestra to the show, and Janine Bryant from the dance department agreed to choreograph ballet pieces as well, one of which was already performed by students at the Fall Arts Festival.

Ron Matthews, the chair of the music department, says, “It seemed like the Lord was really using a project like this to lead us like the ignorant guys along Emmaus…but in the hope of the resurrection!” This interdepartmental project will be an enormous undertaking, but as Tibbels says, “This musical is an opportunity for God’s light and love and hope to shine through.”

The musical will be casted in January and rehearsals will run through February and March and the world premier will be March 26-29. For more information on how to get involved, contact Jenny Tibbels at

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