Church working to bring Christian drama to the Manistee area

Patrick and Joanie Pointer, pastor and worship leader at the Manistee Assembly of God, are also working together to develop the MAGLight Theatre Company that they hope will involve members of many churches in the Benzie, Manistee and Mason county areas. (Dave Yarnell/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Several times in Patrick Pointer’s life he’s been down paths he never thought he’d be on. And, the most recent departure from what became his “normal” life is actually more like what he might have predicted for himself 30 years ago.

Pointer, who is pastor of the Manistee Assembly of God, and his wife Joanie, the church’s worship director, have decided to start the MAGLight Theatre Company and produce an Easter play that they wrote many years ago, “Revealed.”

The Pointers first met as students at Mount Clemens High School. They were both involved in theater, and for the next several years their lives continued to revolve around theater.

“My dad was musical director for 30 years at Mount Clemens High School and we had eight kids in our family, so whenever he needed a little kid, he used one of us,” Joanie said. “When I was five I was Greta in “The Sound of Music” and when I was 17 he did “The Sound of Music” again and I was Maria. That’s when Pat saw me and fell in love with me.”

“Here I was only a freshman and Maria came into our classroom to sell tickets and I looked at her and my heart kind of went ‘woosh,’” Patrick said.

The two went their separate ways until they met at a Macomb County Players cast party. Joanie had just completed her Michigan State University degree in theater.

“Her cast was on the way out and my cast was on the way in,” Patrick said. “She saw me on stage rehearsing for the upcoming production. I was Bob Cratchit in “Scrooge” and she said her heart went ‘hubba, hubba, hubba’ and the tables were turned.”

The two have been in Manistee since 2002 and are excited to be involved in a musical theater production again. Auditions have been held, but there are still looking for several actors and singers to fill out the cast and ask anyone interested to call the church — (231) 723-4332.

“We still need a couple men for sure, and also several women — singers especially,” Patrick said. “We have a role for a girl between the age of 8 and 12. We’ve gotten a couple phone calls and we may have another audition, we’re not sure when, anyone interested should call to find out.”

Patrick said that Manistee’s theater heritage is one of the things that attracted them to the community.

“The Ramsdell Theatre drew us here vision-wise because back in July of 2002, when I was called to come up and interview to be the pastor, we came up almost every weekend and just walked the streets and prayed and one of the things we were impressed with was the Ramsdell.

“After high school, my goal was to go on to Hollywood,” Patrick said, “as a three-dimensional make-up artist, set designer or stunt person.”

“He was headed to Hollywood, and I was going the other way — to Broadway,” Joanie said. “But, we met in the middle.”

Joanie said she isn’t disappointed that her plans for Broadway got sidetracked.

“I guess the Lord changed my heart and wanted me to do more in evangelism and using the media of theater and music to reach people and draw them closer to him,” she said.

Patrick, on the other hand, never thought he’d be a pastor or for that matter a Christian.

“When I was asked to become a part of a Christian drama company, at that point in time in my teenage years I didn’t want anything to do with God,” he said.

The company he joined was one that had visited his sister’s church.

“They said they needed actors and I said I really don’t want anything to do with God, but I’m an actor,” Patrick said. “So they told me that if I was willing to portray roles and act dignified in the churches, they’d take me on.”

Life changed for Pointer shortly after he joined the company.

“I got on board with them and they had over 2,000 scripts ranging in length from 30 seconds to three hours and we were constantly learning scripts on the road from one destination to the next,” Pointer said. “About a few months into it, after portraying some of these characters, God introduced himself to me in a new way and in a way I couldn’t deny that he is who he says he is and at that point I gave my life for the service of God.”

This was all within weeks after he and Joanie were re-introduced.

“At first I wasn’t looking for a relationship at all, but then I became interested in finding someone who was truly a Christian,” Patrick said.

“We just felt like we could serve God better together as a team,” Joanie said.

“In 1982 we wrote our first musical drama called ‘Four Inches from Life,’” Patrick said. “By then we were a traveling drama company of four people — two others who did sound and lighting tech. Everything we had was mobile — we could pick it up and move it from one church to another.”

Patrick soon took another leap he would never have predicted — into the ministry.

“I never thought I’d get the call of God on my life to become a pastor,” he said.

“We just really wanted to do something with the arts to reach people,” Joanie said. “We never in our hearts thought we’d end up in a church.”

But, just as the family was looking into having a special fifth wheel travel trailer built for touring, the Pointers decided to start a church in Sturgis, Mich.

“We did that for two and a half years and our district office asked us if we would consider taking this pastorate in Manistee full-time,” Patrick said. “That’s when we started coming up here, in July of 2002, to decide if we should do it. We got voted in that September and have now been here ten and a half years.”

The Pointer’s busy lives at the church kept them from thinking about getting back into Christian drama, but when their daughter Naomi, drama minister and head of a drama company at a church in Virginia Beach, Va., produced “Revealed,” they had a change of heart.

“When we went to see it, I had been praying constantly, ‘Lord, when do we open this door?’ and God opened my eyes broader in October and put in my heart, ‘open this up to every congregation… not only volunteers from those congregations, but also teach them how to do it and use it in their congregations,’” Patrick said.

“When we saw that, the Lord just opened his heart and eyes again and said, ‘Here’s the vision, I want you to run with it,’ Joanie added.

Pointer said he’s working hard to make the theater company a community-wide vision.

“I sent out over 60 letters to churches in Benzie, Mason and Manistee counties, letting the pastors and priests know that I am not out to steal anybody’s sheep from their churches, that’s not what this is all about,” he said. “I believe part of my calling is to build bridges between churches and be a catalyst among churches.”

The Pointers say that like the title “Reveal,” the plot of the drama is carefully revealed as it goes along. They couldn’t even tell those auditioning the whole story.

“The actors who get cast are sworn to secrecy,” Patrick said. “They’re not allowed to tell anyone about the show.

“I will say that those who come to the production will agree when it’s over that they’ve never seen anything like this,” Patrick said. “It’s a totally different experience. There’s not one person who won’t be touched by at least one of the characters, if not all of the characters.”

“It’s like theater with a purpose,” Joni said. “Theater with a message. You’re not going to leave thinking, ‘that was nice;’ you’re going to leave changed.”

Patrick said that it will be meaningful to be part of the cast.

“It’s full of comedy, but it’s also heart-wrenching,” he said. “It’s a roller coaster ride between reality, life, comedy and tragedy. It’s all in there.”

Further information on the show is available by calling the Assembly of God at (231) 723-4332, sending an e-mail message to maglighttheatre@hotmail.com, or visiting the Facebook page Maglight Theatre Company.

avatar

Posted by Dave Yarnell

Dave was formerly the News Advocate features writer and retired in November 2013.

Leave a Reply