Arts and Entertainment

'The Prodigal' is humorous and poignant



“The Prodigal,” playwright-composer Andrew T. Miller’s musical comedy at Highline Performing Arts Center, succeeds as an ambitious parable of a son who blows his inheritance on an ill-advised, bawdy quest for love and acceptance, only to find out they were right there at the home he foolishly forsook.

Sound a little heavy? It is at times in the story that Federal Way United Methodist Church commissioned Miller to write. But he explains that “the ugliness that exists in our world (is) paralleled through the caricatures in this show. It’s over the top, but it is alluring.” And, he adds, while it might make some audience members “uncomfortable, as it should,” they should also get “the real message” of unconditional love.

Miller’s beautiful music, played by a 24-piece orchestra from the Seattle Symphony, was matched by exceptional singing on opening night last Friday.

Audiences for the Broadway-style production, which runs through Feb. 8 will experience a strong, 62-person cast of professional, semi-pro and community talent, headed by Robert McPherson, an opera tenor whose stage credits stretch from Seattle to New York City and France. As Marcus, McPherson accompanies his friend Jacob, the prodigal (David J. Wilson), on Jacob’s descent into debauchery that miraculously leads to self-discovery and happiness at the point of no hope.

Two other especially fine performers are Karen Kaiser, whose wonderful singing voice puts an exclamation mark on her role of Jacob’s mother, and Lisa Estridge-Gray, a showstopper as Madame Ophelia, a rollicking, brassy swindler who dupes Jacob something fierce.

The rest of the cast includes 16 members with Federal Way ties, many of them students playing students.

Miller, too, has strong local ties. He’s the music director at Federal Way United Methodist. He also is the associate director/composer for Federal Way Chorale and a music instructor at Highline Community College.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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